What point would your state balance on if it were perfectly flat, and all of its residents weighed the same and were at home? Where could the largest number of residents of a state converge by traveling the shortest distance? Put away your calculators; all that math has been done for you by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS). Using statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, NGS calculated the coordinates for the Center of Population for each state. Not about to leave this information to gather dust on some government server, NGS and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) initiated the Center of Population project. This project is intended to be a public relations opportunity for the land surveying profession and an opportunity to showcase improvements in GPS technology, the adaptation of this technology by surveyors and the ability to develop cooperative initiatives between the private sector, federal, state and local surveying and mapping professionals.
Several states have taken on the project of setting, Blue Booking and dedicating their centers of population. We covered the events of Here are some of their stories:
GeorgiaThe location of Georgia’s Center of Population is in Butts County near Lake Jackson in the heart of Georgia. As in the majority of cases, the exact Census location fell in a place that would not have made a good area to establish a geodetic control point for a variety of reasons, mainly inaccessibility. With this in mind, a nearby site was chosen, more suitable for GPS measurements and more easily accessible to the public. The monument was set approximately one mile southeast of the computed location at the Georgia Power Company’s Lloyd Shoals Park public use area.
The monument was set in February and three GPS sessions were run March 6-8, 2003, to qualify the point for Blue Booking by the NGS.
The dedication ceremony was held Friday, April 25, 2003, at 11:00 a.m. and was followed by a barbeque lunch. Curt Sumner, LS, ACSM executive director, was the guest speaker. Others participated in the ceremony as well, including several members of the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG) leadership, and local and state representatives.
LouisianaLouisiana was luckier than most in the computed location of its Center of Population. Located in the vicinity of False River Park near New Roads, La., the Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors (LSPS), in conjunction with NGS, were able to monument and Blue Book the exact position of the center of the state’s population according to the 2000 Census Bureau.
“By marking this exact position of the center of our population, people gain a real sense of the geography of our state’s population,” said Mike Mayeux, PLS, past-president of LSPS. “Louisiana is the first state in the nation to achieve this Blue Booked designation and it is a tribute to the high-tech expertise, hard work and public spirit of our members,” said Tony Cavell, PLS, current president of the organization.
To commemorate the event, LSPS held a dedication ceremony Thursday, Oct. 30, 2002, at False River Park. The Honorable Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana lieutenant governor, presided as the guest speaker. Mike Mayeux, past president of LSPS was master of ceremonies.
New JerseyIn 1960, New Jersey’s Center of Population was New Brunswick. Since then it has moved five miles north and west to its present point in Milltown. On July 9, 2003, at the Milltown Borough Hall, the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors (NJSPLS) along with federal, state, county and local officials held a ceremony to officially mark their state’s Center of Population.
Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Director David Crabiel, a Milltown native, hosted the event. He welcomed the placement of the Centroid as positive proof that Middlesex was indeed the “greatest county in the world.” Middlesex, he noted has a population of 750,000, making it the third largest county in the state. Milltown is a small borough with a population of 7,000, adjoining the more populous East Brunswick and not far from former center of population New Brunswick, also in Middlesex county.
A committee headed by J. Peter Borbas, PLS, and Steve Mazurek, PLS, of NJSPLS located the exact point on the ground in Milltown based on NGS data. NJSPLS had the Center of Population marker designed with an imprint of the NJSPLS logo. The committee set the monument in the late fall.
During his remarks at the ceremony, Warren Payton, New Jersey’s geodetic advisor, commented, “It is no accident that the Center of Population, as well as the community of Milltown is within a mile of U.S. Highway 1, since historically it has been the main artery of commerce since the birth of our nation, linking New Jersey’s large metropolitan region, along a line extending from Newark, through Edison, down through Trenton and onto Camden. The movement of this dense population has followed many of the state’s highway corridors. Thus, there is little doubt that this growth and development relies heavily on the work performed by the surveying community.”
MontanaLast August, Montana set its Center of Population monument at Camp Baker, a public campground 17 miles northwest of White Sulpher Springs in Meagher County. The point chosen is about a half mile from the computed location, which fell on a cliff populated with more deer, elk, mountain lions and bears than anything else. The public will have ample access to the point, as it has been set at the site where boaters can put their crafts into the Smith River to tour the scenic canyon it flows through.
GPS sessions were run the day of the gathering to set the monument without much fanfare. Montana’s NGS State Advisor Curtis Smith participated and the point has since been Blue Booked by the NGS.
Other states that have recently set their centers of population are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington, Utah, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York and Nevada.
If your state has recently dedicated, or is the process of dedicating, its center of population and its story is not included here, contact Emily Vass at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit details and have them posted.
Note: This feature will be added to as state events occur. Please check back often for more news.