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 they seized their chance.
They changed their town seal to an outline of North America, with Rugby as a dot on it. Volunteers erected a 15-foot rock obelisk in town. The location of the monument was 15 miles northeast, near the intersection of two highways, U.S. Highway 2 and North Dakota Highway 3, where many motorists can 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 several decades, visitors have streamed into the town to click pictures at the site, which is decorated with American and Canadian flags and buy souvenirs to take back home. But Rugby’s claim was recently challenged by the a few of the 40 residents of Robinson, a town which is hundred miles south.
Yet another recent claim, proposed by a professor of geography who used a different method of calculation, puts the coveted point in the town of…Center, in North Dakota.
Whether or not Rugby is actually the center of the entire continent, the monument stands tall, and Rugby still enjoys the perks of this geographic glory.
Know Before You Go
Go to Rugby, N.D., on U.S. Highway 2 to the intersection with North Dakota Highway 3. The monument is at the southeast corner.