MISSOURI – If you were to point to the middle of Missouri on a map, you might think Columbia, Rolla, or Jefferson City. Oddly enough, it’s not any of those three, but it’s not too far from the state capitol.
At the start of every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau calculates the “population center” point of each state. This is a somewhat loose term that doesn’t necessarily represent the geographic center of the state. Rather it represents a theoretical, flat, weightless map of Missouri would balance if it were of uniform density, meaning that residents were distributed evenly within the state.
Inspired by a digital report from our friends at WGN, which calculated the population center of Illinois, FOX 2 wanted to find out more about the heart of Missouri.
Based on the latest Census report from 2020, Missouri’s population center is located at 38° 25′ 59″ N , 92° 14′ 06″ W.
Google Maps reveals this to be closest to an unincorporated community called Osage Township. The coordinates show a very rural area near Giggins Creek Road and Osage Bluff Lane, but also within proximity of the Osage River and Higgins Creek.
Based on Google Maps, the center would be in unincorporated Cole County, Missouri. It seems there could be some discrepancy as to where the center resides with geography websites like NetState.com claiming the land to be in neighboring Miller County, Missouri.
The Census-designated center isn’t too far from Jefferson City with Google Maps predicting about a 20-25 minute south and slightly west of the capitol.
The coordinates representing Missouri’s center mark have generally gravitated more south after each Census cycle, but 2020 was the first time in half a century that the coordinates were slightly more northern.
The current Census-designated center of Missouri is much different from the original mark determined in 1880. That had coordinates of 38° 42′ 32″ N , 92° 25′ 08″ W. According to Google Maps, this was located near an unincorporated community called Bacon, Missouri, in Moniteau County, roughly a 40-minute drive north of the current center.
It’s too soon to tell where Missouri’s next population center will be in 2030, though it will likely shift again and likely end up in Cole or Miller County.
Strangely enough, the population center of the United States is also located in Missouri. It was last determined to be near Hartville, Missouri, in Wright County in 2020.