Population center

April 21, 2001

THE NATION'S new center of population, according to the 2000 federal census, is once more in Missouri but farther south and west -- deeper in the Ozarks. The population center, which crossed the Mississippi in 1980, had been near DeSoto and then Steelville. Now the nearest road junction is said to be Edgar Springs.

Lower Missouri does have its special place names -- Annapolis, Liberal, Plato, Herculaneum Humansville. The Ozark Plateau, with its forests and folkways, is sometimes thought of as West Appalachia.

The U.S. population center ever retreats, yet Maryland remains interested; nay, nostalgic. That map honor was ours, in 1790 after the first decennial head count -- on the other side of the bay. (It was ours again, on this side, in 1800.) As any Shoreman can tell you, with a wink, population is why a place over there calls itself Centreville.

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