It’s probably out in a field—37 degrees, 31 minutes, 3.12 seconds North latitude; 92 degrees, 10 minutes, 23.15 seconds west longitude, the new population center of the United States. That means that if everybody in the United States weighed the same and was equally spaced throughout the 50 states, the nation would balance on a point about 2.7 miles northeast of Plato, a small town in southern Missouri’s Texas County. It’s about ten miles south of Fort Leonard Wood and about 20 miles northwest of Houston, Missouri.
Don’t expect Plato to become a booming tourist attraction. Edgar Springs, the previous center, hasn’t. Neither did Steelville, the center in 19-90. And Desoto, the first Missouri town to be the nation’s population center, after the 1980 census, didn’t make it into a major economic development gain. National census director Robert Groves says the location might be remote but it is significant because it tracks the way the nation’s population has shifted.
The population center in 1790 was in Maryland. For 220 years that balancing point has shifted south and west. Demographers think it will move into Arkansas or Oklahoma by the middle of the century.
Just for the record–there are other centers. The geographic center of the 48 states is in Smith County Kansas. The geographic center of North America is in the next county over, Osborne County, Kansas. The Geographic Center of all 50 states is in northwest South Dakota.
But the people’s place for the next decade is Plato, Missouri.