Chanute, Center of Google Earth

(Frank) And we’re back again. This is Around Kansas with Frank and Deb. And we tell you stories every week about things, and people, and places, all around Kansas. (Deb) Is that what we do? (Frank) I think so. So, we’re supposed to. Anyway, and she’s gonna be in Wichita talking about something tomorrow. (Deb) Tonight. (Frank) Tonight, OK. (Deb) My gosh Frank. (Frank) Hey, it’s early in the morning. We’ve got to put a little humor in to the day. If you think we’re humorous. (Deb) Well, I think we’re the center of the universe myself. And we have long been the center of the contiguous states. (Frank) Oh, that’s right. Yea. (Deb) And now we are…Kansas finds itself at the center of Google Earth. Is that not the coolest thing ever? (Frank) OK, but the geodesic center is I believe somewhere around Concordia. So now the Google center of the earth is where? (Deb) Chanute. (Frank) Chanute. (Deb) In Chanute, Kansas. Yea. Is that not awesome? I can’t wait to hear all about that. You know we’ve long been, we’ve talked about this before, how we’re the crossroads and just sort of the flyover, but when you talk about being the center and it’s the place where you mark everything from, you measure everything from this point, that is pretty cool. (Frank) Maybe they could change Greenwich Time to Google Earth Time or who knows? (Deb) Or Chanute time. (Frank) Chanute time. (Deb) We could just be, yea… (Frank) Chanute time is… (Deb) Chanute time. Yea, like light years. So, Google Earth and we’re smack dab in the middle of it. Let’s see. (Frank) It’s all about who you know. When surveyors wanted to find the center of the nation in 1918, it was simple. You just measure it. Before the addition of Hawaii and Alaska in 1959, Kansas boasted the center of the nation. After those two states were admitted, that honor shifted northward to South Dakota and Kansas had to qualify its claim to center of the “contiguous states.” The point is located a couple of miles from Lebanon, a few miles south of the Nebraska line. Locating the center of Google Earth was not so scientific. In fact, it was downright subjective. Software engineer and Chanute native Dan Webb programmed the zoom button to narrow down on his hometown, and voila, Chanute became the center of the virtual world. To mark this auspicious designation, Chanute has painted a 30-foot globe on the street with a pushpin marking the town, smack dab in the middle. It seems only fitting that this honor would come to Chanute. The Neosho County town was named for railroad engineer and aviation pioneer, Octave Chanute. The town honors him with a sculpture of an airplane suspended on a mobile. The work is dedicated to the city’s namesake and the Wright Brothers. Chanute was a mentor to Wilbur and Orville Wright and very influential in the early days of flight exploration. The sculpture measures 23 feet from wingtip to wingtip and 20 feet from nose to tail. It’s pretty amazing. Google Earth and go to the center to see for yourself. Or better yet, just drive on over and stand on the spot that one little boy who grew up in a small town decided was the center of the world.

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