Rugby regains title of "Center of North America," sort of

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What's the geographical center of North America? Good question.

To arrive at the answer you need to know who or what agency is making the calculations, what parts of the continent are factored into the topographical map, and most important, the wording used for the coveted title issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

For more than eighty-five years, most people considered this monument, located at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 3 in Rugby, North Dakota, to be the geographical center of North America.

Lila Harstad, Rugby Chamber of Commence: "We have been it, we are it, it's the way it is."

That is, until Bill Bender, the mayor of Robinson, North Dakota, and co-owner of Hanson's Bar, placed dibs on the title.

Bill Bender, Robinson Mayor, Co-Owner Hanson's Bar: We always thought Rugby's claim was very suspect as a lot of people do because it was never in Rugby, it was always, best guess, it was 15-16 miles outside of Rugby.

Bender discovered Rugby allowed the trademark for the coveted title to expire, so he applied for, and received the designation from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Bill Bender: "We did some research on it and it's right underneath the bar, our best guess."

The town of Robinson is 98 miles south of Rugby. Bender included the Caribbean in his continental computations.

Bill Bender: This is the official marker for the geographical center of North America in Hanson's Bar."

Bill the Science Guy's geographic revelation didn't sit well with Rugby, even though they conceded their 21-foot obelisk isn't the absolute, true and mathematical center of the continent.

Carol Bohlman, Rugby, ND: Actually we're not, it's what, three miles out of Rugby, you can't put it way out there.

To set the record straight, a third time, Rugby reapplied for, and received another trademark, by adding the town's name in front of and after the designation.

Shelley Block, Chamber of Commerce Consultant: "We had to prove that we had been using the trademark logo, Geographical Center of
North America, for all those years.

Nat sound of truck going by road sign.....

For some, this war of word isn't about bragging rights, it's about bucks.

Retail customer: "Thank you, have a nice day."

Sales of cups, T-shirts and post cards displaying the title is big business.

Miriah Koenig, Executive Director, Rugby Chamber of Commerce: There's thousands that come in and out all the time.

Purchases at Hanson's Bar have increased since Robinson became the center of attention and Bill thinks his place is better suited than Rugby for official status.

Bill Bender: "You have to go stand out in the cold and take pictures and put your parka on, here you're eight feet away from 45-bar, you can get a beer, why isn't that better?

For now, there are at least two official geographic centers of North America.

Bill Bender: "We have our thing, they have theirs, we're fine co-existing."

So, the answer to the question, where is the geographical center of North America?, depends on your perspective.

The town of Center, North Dakota, 143 miles southeast of Rugby, and 89 miles west of Robinson, also claims to be the geographical center of North America. But that allegation is a whole nother story.