The Population Center Marker indicates the geographic center of the population in the United States, based upon information released by the United States Census Bureau. In 1930 the center was found to be about three miles north of the city park at the east edge of Linton.
In 1780, the year of the first census, the center of population was 23 miles east of Baltimore, Maryland. Ten years later the center was 18 miles west of Baltimore. By 1810 the pioneers had flocked into the great Ohio Valley, pulling the population center into Virginia, northwest of Washington D.C.
By 1820 a westward movement was in full swing. The west, as far as California and Oregon, was in the process of being settled. The population centers for 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 formed an almost straight line across the state of Virginia. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had more than doubled their population, which caused the 1860 marker to be erected southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio. By 1870 the designated spot was about 48 miles northeast of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Following the end of the Civil War, steam navigation and railroads helped to penetrate the remote sections of America, which resulted in a slight southward trend occurring in the 1880. The center was moved across the Ohio River at Cincinnati into Kentucky.
Then the markers began their record-breaking swing across Indiana. The 1890 marker stood 20 miles east of Columbus, Indiana. However, the financial panic of the 1890’s hit, and the 1890 and 1900 markers were only 14 miles apart.
The shift in the nation’s growth continued to follow the parallel of 30 degrees north latitude. This took the men, who were appointed to mark the spot of the 1920 population center, to a briar patch thicket in a deep ravine eight miles southeast of Spencer, Indiana. After a debate, they drove a stake into the ground near the road where their equipment was parked.
What the other sites had lacked and the inability of the officials to give the marker a proper historical designation was more than made up when Linton learned that the center of population had been found to be just three miles north of the city park. The United States Population Center Marker in Linton was originally made of coal in honor of the abundant coal supply in the area. Unfortunately, it was stolen for fuel during the Great Depression. Later the population marker was replaced using stone. Today, the marker may be found in the Lee-Sherrard Park, which is commonly known to local residents as the Conservation Club.
[Written May 1997]
"Population Center Marker," History of Greene County Indiana: 1885-1989. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1990.
"Population Center Near Linton in 30s," Linton Daily Citizen, April 30, 1986, p.14.
Mahoney, Stacy. "United States Population Center Marker," Historical Landmark Project: 1987-1988.