Clamoring on the steep incline under the weight of my heaviest film camera (reserved only for the most promising of discoveries), slipping twice to one knee on rime ice, I hitch one last gasp of frigid oxygen as my head lifts my eager eyes into perfect position to feast on the conquered monument. Sheepherder’s Monuments!? !*&#@%! “This is NOT the Geographic Center of the United States of America??!!”  My lips are too numb to spew anything out, but my mind handles it beautifully in their stead. “I climbed all this way, alone in the middle of Greenland, South Dakota for THIS!?” Kicking the fence while hanging on with one gloved hand to steady my footing, the shards of ice and frozen atmosphere target the only opening to my skin, right down the back of my neck. And if there’s any justice, hopefully into the dens of a few sleeping rattlesnakes.

The Geographic Center of the U.S. is not where you’d expect. Furthermore, it’s not where my 2004 Atlas said it would be. After spending an hour-and-a-half combing the area, I know. North of Belle Fourche (Bell Foosh), South Dakota on Highway 85, just South of Junction 168, my Atlas in bright red said: “Geographic Center of U.S. Marker”.


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Comments by other travellers

As much time as I spend in the Black Hills, I've still never gone to this marker. I'll have search for it also. As for the rattlesnakes, they hibernate in winter, so by your pics you were just fine. The entire region of western south dakota (and adjacent Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana) are prairie rattlesnake terratory. This is their home. If you do ever get bitten by one though, get to a hospital immediately! They don't go up into the actual Black Hills though, so few worries there. You will find some rattlesnakes in the area you were searching, but not all that many. Just watch where you're walking.

Thanks for visiting our state though!! Come back in the spring sometime, the weather is much nicer!!

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  • Tammie Dooley

    I’m an explorer who happens to write and maintain a camera on my person at all times. Foreign travel is exotic but doesn't happ…

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