Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cows to the left of me, clover to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you


Right of center

Left of center

Center










There's Middle America, and then there's Lebanon, Kansas. Lebanon is at the exact geographical center of the 48 continental United States and they have the latitude (38,50) and longitude (98,35) to prove it. And, while the north central Kansas town gets its fame from being in the middle, it has more of an edge-of-nowhere feel to it, as long as the edge-of-nowhere is a pretty, pastoral place. Gently rolling hills, dirt roads, the occasional horse running wild...that's about it. But that's okay. The middle of America should be a place for calm, peaceful reflection, far from the frantic coasts to the east and west and international borders north and south. There's a pyramid-like marker with a plaque from 1940 when an L.T. Hagadorn and an L.A. Beardslee literally put Lebanon on the places-in-the-middle-of-other-places map. Sticklers will tell you that the actual really, really, middle point is about a half a mile away on a private farm and this is as close as the marker builders could get. Apparently, the farm's owner didn't want middle-seeking tourists trudging on his land. There's also a trailer with some nice artifacts in it, or so we were told. Unfortunately, in order to unlock the door, you have to call a phone number for an access code and, alas, we were not getting any service on our Motorola. I guess there's just never a phone booth when you really need one. For quiet meditation, there is what has to be one of the nation's smallest chapels, with room for four or less parishioners, depending on girth, built in honor of Elmer and Zeta Stump. But mostly this is just beautiful country, where the middle of nowhere is actually the middle of somewhere, and that somewhere is pretty awesome.

11 comments:

Daniel said...
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Daniel said...

I really love your writing. Thank you for all the pictures and sharing your expierences :)

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Thanks for stopping by Daniel. We've always got room for one more "passenger" along the way!

eb said...

I love that road!! Did you try to go to 'downtown' Lebanon for souvenirs? There's even a sign that points to the 'business district'. I think there was a library, a local diner and, of course, the gun shop that doubles as a post office.

Gunnar and Sherry said...

eb: We had to forgo the greater metropolitan Lebanon area because it was late in the day, we were many miles from a decent motel and a windy storm was brewing (a windy storm? in Kansas? really?). Love the gun shop/post office concept.

Amber Von Felts said...

How cool! Its places like this that make me love the ingenuity of small town tourist boards! That lil' chapel is SO DARN CUTE! I wonder if anyone has ever been married there, talk about a small wedding!

Marina said...

I visited here in October last year and the wind was insane! It was my first trip into the midwest (on my way to Iowa) and I tried for 45 minutes to get a decent self-timer picture of me jumping in front of the pyramid marker but it was so windy, my camera kept blowing over. There's a good shot here:

http://marinahendrix.blogspot.com/2010/10/into-midwest.html

Its at the end of the post. Enjoying your blog so far!!

Gunnar and Sherry said...

That's a fanstastic picture of you at the pyramid, Marina! Very artistic without being pretentious. Love your blog too... makes me want to go to Texas. And I think I'll take up postcrossing too. Thanks for stopping by!

Former Kansas Wildflower said...

I grew up in Lebanon, Kansas. It is a quiet, sleepy town. Yes there have been weddings at the little chapel, and on Easter Sunday - there are sunrise services on the hill out there. Absolutely beautiful. As far as questions about going downtown to obtain souvenirs, good luck with that! I dont think there are any shops to speak of at all anymore, maybe the old hardware store, gas station, small grocery store, the diner, and thats about it - last I knew :)
The gun shop and post office are both located in a trailer run by my brothers old classmate. The schools closed long ago in 1983, they are consolidated with a town nearby. There is not a lot to see in Lebanon anymore. My parents used to own one of the two grocery stores in the town, but we sold that when the schools consolidated in the 80s. I think the building was used for a real estate office (seriously?? people wanna move there?) but has since closed down. I heard that the building isnt even there anymore. It is beautiful, peaceful country though. If you had traveled about 30-45 miles west, you could have had your picture taken with the world's largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas!!

Former Kansas Wildflower said...

Sorry, I meant traveled east!

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Thanks for your great comments, Wildflower. We would have liked to have seen more(?)of Lebanon because we love out of the way places but the weather intervened. We did make it to Cawker City and the ball of twine and LOVED it. A real highlight.