After leaving Deadwood, South Dakota, the Hawthornes traveled through Belle Fourche, South Dakota, on our way to Little Big Horn Battlefield. Belle Fourche (translates to "beautiful fork") is on the northern edge of the Black Hills at the fork of the Belle Fourche and Redwater Rivers.
Historically, the community can be described as Cowboy Central. This is where the great cattle herds of the Northern Plains were gathered and shipped back east in the heyday of the open range. That wild and free era drew to a close with the last big cattle roundup in the West which occurred in Belle Fourche in 1902. Now what, you ask, aside from cattle, is Belle Fourche's claim to fame?
Well, Belle Fourche touts its status as the Center of the Nation. Actually, that point is 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, but I guess the residents of Belle Fourche thought they were close enough to claim the title.
The actual geographical center of the entire country, including Hawaii and Alaska, is 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, officially designated in 1959 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
In celebration of this, a 21-foot-diameter monument in the shape of a compass rose has been carved out of South Dakota granite. The monument is located behind Belle Fourche's Chamber of Commerce.
A twelve-inch bronze marker from the Geodetic Survey commemorates Belle Fourche as the Center of the Nation.
A Korean War Memorial. Dedicated to all those who answered our nation's call in the pursuit of freedom. The Forgotten War.