Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ball of Twine and The Center of the United States (Free!)

Nope, we aren't ignoring this blog - we just had a major change of plans! We were planning  a slow mosey through the midwest, eventually winding up in North Indiana for the family reunion. But-

After enjoying a few beautiful days at Beloit's Chautauqua Park, a heat wave rolls through! We immediately ditch our plans and check with the relative who  offered us free hookups for the reunion. She doesn't mind us showing up a few days early, so we pack up and head for northern Indiana. Now we're here and much cooler, we can catch the blog back up!
Downtown Beloit is just a short walk from the park, taking the bridge that goes over Solomon River. Back in the 70's, six counties in the area created the SVED (Solomon Valley Economic Development). 
The SVED focuses on economic development, but also consults with local businesses and helps non-profits procure grants.The result is Beloit feels like a bit of a time warp.
There are several banks and newspaper offices, as well as local businesses who seem to be doing a pretty lively business. There's even a laundromat downtown, which makes it easy to catch up on that task!
Another thing unique to Beloit is this memorial to city and public safety employees. We often forget these folks make a lot of sacrifices to ensure the public is taken care of.
Less than an hour away is the the geographic center of the contiguous United States is the center of 48 U.S. states. This roadside stop is free and was listed in both Google Maps and our GPS - so as long as you can type 'contiguous', it's pretty easy to find!
When New Mexico and Arizona were added to the United States map in 1912, this location was selected by U.S. National Geodetic Survey as the center. 
If you are wondering, yes, Alaska and Hawaii have changed the center of the entire United States - that center is in North Dakota!
  Another fun  stop is a half an hour away in Cawker City. This twine ball was started by a local farmer back in the 50's and is now the largest ball of twine in the world, and one of the "eight wonders of Kansas".
We opted to not 'string' our visit out, but if you want to add to the ball you can just follow the directions here - or you can show up in August for the town's Twineathon, where everyone adds to the ball's dimensions!


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