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Geographic Center of North America
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  • States:
    North Dakota

A monument to the center of the North American continent may be off by a few miles.

Shortly after the U.S. Geological Survey determined in 1931 that a point near Rugby, North Dakota, was the center of North America, the town authorities worked quickly. Rugby had been put on the map and now was its chance.

The town changed its seal to an outline of North America, with Rugby as a dot on it. Volunteers erected a 15-foot rock obelisk in town, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and North Dakota Highway 3, where motorists passing by could see it. When U.S. 2 expanded to four lanes in 1971, the obelisk was moved a short distance away and stands in a parking lot today.

For decades, visitors have streamed into the town to take pictures of the site—lined with American and Canadian flags—and to buy souvenirs to take back home. But Rugby’s claim was recently challenged by some residents of Robinson, a town about a hundred miles south.

Yet another recent claim, put forward by a geography professor using a different method of calculation, puts the coveted point in the North Dakota town of…Center. Whether or not Rugby is actually the center of the entire continent, the monument continues to stand tall—so Rugby still enjoys the perks, if not the certainty, of being the continent’s center.

Know Before You Go

Head to Rugby, N.D., on U.S. Highway 2. The monument is at the southeast corner of the intersection with North Dakota Highway 3.

Content originally created for Atlas Obscura.

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