Lately there’s been a renewed interest in determining the geographical center of North America. The interest stems from Rugby forgetting to renew its trademark in 2009, and Hanson’s Bar in Robinson recently purchasing the available trademark.
Just to be clear, there’s no way to actually determine the true center of an irregular polygon such as North America. Imagine the difficulties, do you include Greenland? The Caribbean Islands? The Aleutian or Canadian islands? And what about the water between islands?
Difficulties like these, among others, led the United States Geological Survey to begin its 1931 determination: "There is no generally accepted definition of geographic center, and no completely satisfactory method for determining it. Because of this, there may be as many geographic centers of a state or country (or continent) as there are definitions of the term." The USGS proceeded to "approximate" the center as being 6 miles west of Balta (no reputable entity ever determined Rugby to be the center).
Peter A. Rogerson (University of Buffalo) has attempted to more accurately determine centers, however, Rogerson also points out that "there’s no commonly accepted method for its determination." Attempts fail(ed) to include the Caribbean Islands. If we accept the USGS determination, but correct it to include the Caribbean, the center would be farther southeast of Balta, perhaps Hanson's Bar in Robinson. Since there is no accepted method for finding the continental center, the determination becomes, as Rogerson has stated, "more of a matter of civic pride than scientific advancement."
If Rugby retains the trademark it neglected, it is more of a matter of who has more money and better lawyers. The words "geographical center" should be omitted from the trademark, since geographical science wasn’t utilized in the claim, and they’re not actually the center of anything.
Casey Mutzenberger, Zap