Unusual Tourist Sites: Center of North America Rugby, North Dakota Part 1

About the unusual tourist site Rugby, North Dakota, home to the geographic center of North America, history of the town and monument.

Rugby, North Dakota

Center of North America . . . The little town of Rugby lies about 45 mi. from the Canadian border in the north central part of North Dakota. It has a population of less than 3,000 and a typical small-town atmosphere, but there are nevertheless a few distinctive things to set it apart from thousands of other small towns across the country.

Yes, Rugby has achieved some fame that makes its townspeople proud. The U.S. Geological Survey has indicated that Rugby is the geographical center of North America. From Rugby, you would have to travel 1,500 mi. away. The distance to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is 1,500 mi., too.

So to commemorate this central location, the people of Rugby have erected a stone cairn with a plaque reading, "Geographical Center of North America, Rugby, N.D."

The monument is actually located about a mile south of the city of Rugby, adjacent to a Texaco gasoline station. It is constructed of rocks and held together with reinforcing rods and cement. Built in pyramid style, its base is 6' square, and it stands 21' high. Volunteers from Rugby assisted Boy Scouts in erecting the landmark. Lights keep the monument in full view after dark.

Rugby is located near U.S. Highway 2, and is surrounded by a vast undeveloped land area. The early explorers erroneously called this area the Great American Desert, and despite its natural beauty, it has not yet attracted enough people to cause a population crisis. In fact, throughout the entire State of North Dakota, the population now numbers almost 100,000 less than it did in 1930. In its Chamber of Commerce brochures and reports, Rugby emphasizes that it is "a city with room for development and expansion in almost every direction . . . " with ". . . complete facilities for new industry and economic growth."

But even if Rugby never attains the status of a big city, there is still something very appealing about a small town that has remained largely unchanged in the 90 years since it was founded. The 1st train arrived here in August, 1885, bringing English immigrants, who immediately named the new town after Rugby, England.

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