Hagioscope

Friday, August 24, 2007

find your center

I may not be the center of the universe, but my hometown is the center of the country. Belle Fourche, SD, has been officially designated the geographic center of the United States. If you draw a big circle on a map that includes Alaska and Hawaii, smack in the middle is where I grew up.

OK, technically, the exact center is a little way out of town in some rancher's pasture. (You know how mystics say the center of everything is nothing? This would be a concrete example of that philosophy.) However, locals have been referring to Belle Fourche as the Center of the Nation for years. No one has made much fuss about it in the past, but recently a visitors' center, complete with statuary, was constructed in hopes of attracting a little tourist traffic. I've seen it. It's very nice. You should visit next time you're in the Black Hills.

Click here for an NPR story on Belle Fourche — hit the "listen" button for 3:38 of audio. Listen for the name of the guy who designed the Center of the Nation monument: He was my date to the senior prom.

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