FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Search the center point of California online and you will likely be directed to a plaque outside of North Fork. The Madera County community famously advertises itself as the center point of the Golden State on its entrance sign (just below the name itself).
A little bit more digging and you will find that California has at least three center points in the state – and all of them are in the Central Valley.
Geographically, the center point of California is just outside of North Fork. A plaque on the ground marks the “exact center of California,” with the sign dedicated in November 1998 by the North Fork History Group. For the curious, the exact center of the state is 37° 09′ 58″ N and 119° 26′ 58″ W.
Getting to that spot is tricky. From North Fork, you would have to go south on Road 225 until you see a post on the left side of the road that reads “Cal Center.” You would then go up the stairs to reach the plaque.
The mid-point of California is considered to be between the cities of Fresno and Madera on Highway 99. The point where the pine tree and the palm tree stand next to each other is said to be where northern California meets southern California.
In an interview with this station in 2018, Ginny Smith with the North Fork History Group said that years of debate led to the geographic center of the state being established outside North Fork – but years of hearsay before that said that the two trees on the highway were the center of California.
“They say ‘well I read that is the center,’ I say no we have proven that with satellite and instruments,” said Ginny Smith.
Getting to the mid-point is easy. The palm and pine trees are in the center median of Highway 99, so to see them you will need to keep your eyes open between Avenue 11 and Avenue 10½ in Madera County.
Unlike the other two center points, the population center of California is not in Madera County. According to data from the 2020 Census, the population center point of California is in Kern County, just outside Shafter. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population center is the point on the map that represents the average distribution of the population.
The Center of Population is a point at where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if everyone were of identical weight.U.S. Census Bureau
(As a point of reference, the center point of the United States is just under 15 miles from Hartville, Missouri.)
For the curious, the population center point of California is in a field at the intersection of W. Los Angeles Avenue and Palm Avenue, around five miles from Shafter.