Yes, the monument in the above image claims that Rugby, North Dakota is the center of North America. Well, that monument is wrong. And that’s where our story begins. (Here are some more geography facts that everyone gets wrong.)
In 1931, the U.S. Geological Survey did some calculations and named the town of Rugby, North Dakota the geographical center of the continent. (Yes, all the way up in North Dakota. Consider that your daily reminder of just how big Canada is.) For the next 80 years, Rugby’s claim remained undisputed. Rugby embraced the title, selling “Geographic Center” merchandise, throwing a yearly “Geographical Center Day” fair, and building the above monument. But then in 2016, the mayor of the neighboring town, Robinson, ND, had one too many and decided to proclaim that HIS town was the real geographical center. The mayor’s drunken whim actually managed to gain some ground, and Robinson began selling “Geographical Center” merchandise as well.
A news story about the dispute reached a geographer named Peter Rogerson, who took it upon himself to settle the matter. He discovered that, back in 1931, the U.S. Geological Survey hadn’t accounted for the curve of the Earth. He came up with a fancy computer program that would more accurately determine the center. His calculations revealed that the true geographical center was a town in North Dakota, but not Rugby or Robinson. It was a town called Center. Government officials of Center gave it that name because it was located at the center of its county. They had no idea that it was also located at a much larger, more significant center. In other words, poetic justice is alive and well, everyone. Check out these other towns in the United States that have hilarious names.
While it’s unclear whether either of the other towns will rescind the title, it’s still nice to know that you can take a picture at the center of the continent next to a sign reading Center. Speaking of weird facts about the continents, did you know there’s the eighth one?!
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