When it comes to pinpointing the geographical center of Missouri, you might be surprised to learn that it’s not Columbia, Rolla, or Jefferson City. Rather, it’s a lesser-known area nestled not too far from the state capital.
The U.S. Census Bureau determines the “population center” of each state at the beginning of every decade. While this term may sound straightforward, it doesn’t necessarily indicate the exact geographic midpoint. Instead, it represents a theoretical balancing point on a flat, weightless map of Missouri, assuming an even distribution of residents across the state.
Thanks to a digital report from WGN that calculated the population center of Illinois, FOX 2 decided to delve deeper into the heart of Missouri. According to the latest Census report from 2020, Missouri’s population center is situated at 38° 25′ 59″ N, 92° 14′ 06″ W.
Taking a closer look at Google Maps, this coordinate corresponds to an unincorporated community known as Osage Township. The location is characterized by its rural surroundings, bordered by Giggins Creek Road and Osage Bluff Lane, and nestled near the Osage River and Higgins Creek.
It’s worth noting that there seems to be some discrepancy regarding the exact location of the center. While Google Maps suggests it lies within unincorporated Cole County, other sources, like NetState.com, claim it to be in neighboring Miller County, Missouri.
Despite the slight confusion, it’s evident that the population center isn’t too far from Jefferson City, with a predicted 20-25 minute drive to the south and slightly west of the capital.
Interestingly, the Census-designated center has gradually shifted southward with each Census cycle. However, in 2020, there was a slight deviation from this pattern, as the coordinates were slightly more northern compared to the previous decades.
The current center differs significantly from its original location back in 1880, which was near an unincorporated community called Bacon, Missouri, in Moniteau County, roughly a 40-minute drive north of the current center.
As for the future, it is difficult to predict where Missouri’s next population center will be in 2030. However, based on previous trends, it is likely to shift again, possibly settling in Cole or Miller County.
Interestingly, Missouri also houses the population center of the entire United States, which was last determined to be near Hartville, Missouri, in Wright County in 2020.
Q: How does the Census Bureau determine the population center?
A: The Census Bureau calculates the population center by assuming an even distribution of residents across the state and determining the theoretical balancing point on a flat, weightless map.
Q: What is the current population center of Missouri?
A: According to the latest Census report from 2020, Missouri’s population center is located in Osage Township, close to Giggins Creek Road and Osage Bluff Lane.
Q: Will the population center of Missouri change in the future?
A: Yes, based on previous trends, the population center is expected to shift again in the next Census cycle, which will likely occur in 2030.