The magazine of the photo-essay
Jan 2017 back issue
by Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
The Man in the Heart of America Back to menu
The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey has determined what is the geographic centre of the United States by a method of cutting a piece of cardboard of uniform thickness along the outline of the country, including Alaska and Hawaii. This piece of cardboard, representing the whole of the United States, has a center of gravity at which this cardboard will perfectly balance. This is called the geographic center of the United States which is at latitude 44 degrees, 58 N and longitude 103 degrees 46 W. About 20 miles north of the small town of Belle Fourche in the State of South Dakota somewhere in the hills where cows and sheep, deer and antelope graze freely and peacefully.
Who is the person who lives the closest to the geographic centre of the United States? Who is the man in the heart of America?
The person who lives the closest to the geographical centre of the United States is a gentleman by the name of Dan Conner. He is 69 years old and, since 1978, has lived with his wife Cindy on a small ranch not far from the geographical centre. He has taken it upon himself to make sure that there is an American flag flying at the geographical center of his country. When the strong winds that often rage in this area blow away the flag, Dan Conner replaces it with a new one.
Rancher Dan Conner has 160 cows and 500 sheep. He owns 3500 acres of land and leases from the U.S. Govt another 5000 acres. He has to maintain 50 miles of fences. He can run his enterprise alone with help of his wife and occasionally of his grandson. For running the ranch smoothly he has two 4x4 pick up trucks, 2 ATV’s, 3 tractors, 1 loader, 1 semi truck, 1 trailer and two sedan cars.
Dan Conner and his wife Cindy belong to the Lutheran church. They watch the news on satellite TV. Dan is a registered Republican but considers himself now an Independent. “The politicians are all crooks”, he claims. And Barack Obama ? “I don’t like the man at all. I liked Bush a little better…”. However, after years of not having had health insurance they recently joined Obamacare. Dan Conner always votes when there are elections.
Dan has been married to Cindy for 45 years now. They have two children. They are a happy couple. “We were just lucky,” Cindy believes. “It’s love,” says Dan. Dan Conner never considers retiring: he has a strong passion for his work and loves the solitary life with his wife on the ranch. But he knows his children are not going to continue the ranch and after him nobody will live here all year round anymore as Dan and Cindy do, braving the long, harsh winters.
Dan and Cindy live more than 12 miles from the main road to the town of Belle Fourche, which is another 20 miles. Nevertheless they have electricity, a landline phone, propane tanks, satellite TV and Internet. Water they have to haul from Belle Fourche. In Wintertime they are often snowed in and unable to leave the house for sometimes up to 3 weeks. They have freezers with food supplies that will last for months.
The man who has lived for 37 years in the heart of America is a happy and prosperous person. Loving dearly his wife, his family, his animals, his work and his country. Gratitude to Cindy and Dan Conner. © Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski
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