By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Nov 27, 2006 at 5:12 AM
If one of your life goals is to stand on the halfway line of the Northern Hemisphere, make the trip to Cadott, Wis.

The town of about 1,400 people sits on the 45th Parallel, a line of latitude halfway to the Equator and halfway to the North Pole.

The local Lions Club put up a sign designating this geographic midway point, even though the actual location of the 45th Parallel is 3 miles north of town.  (The sign admits this small gap in fine print.)

Cadott, named after fur trader Jean Baptiste Cadotte, sits in a beautiful part of the state, 15 miles east of Chippewa Falls. Outdoor recreation is a big attraction during all seasons.

Some of that recreation centers on the Yellow River, which flows through Cadott. A Chippewa River tributary, the waterway is one of four distinct rivers in the state bearing the name Yellow River.

This Yellow River begins in Kitric Swamp near Perkinstown in the Chequamegon National Forest. The river runs a short way before it forms two reservoirs, the Chequamegon Waters Flowage and the Miller Dam Flowage, separated by an isthmus. A dam in Cadott forms a small reservoir, before the river joins the Chippewa River when it flows into Lake Wissota at Moon Bay. Recreation opportunities can be found up and down the river.

The woods and countryside around Cadott also offer hiking, biking and other opportunities.

Not only is Cadott halfway between the equator and the pole, it's also halfway between the origin of the earth and the present.  Not many towns would list a bedrock exposure in the county tour guide, but Cadott does. The exposures are west of Hwy. 27.

The rocks are dark gray Archean amphibolites with faint banding and numerous granite dikes and lenses and can be traced to about that geologic “halfway” point, according to research by UW system geologists.

The local historical society boasts of having the last wooden butter churn used in Wisconsin. It is huge ... measuring 9 ft. long, 5 ft. in diameter and had the capacity to make 1,200 lbs. of butter. The butter churn was in daily use until 1983. Other historic artifacts from the area also can be found at the society’s museum, which is open only on Mondays.

Cadott hosts two big music festivals that draw some top name rock and country music stars. The country music festival is scheduled for June 21-24 next year and will feature Lee Ann Womack, Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry and other top performers.

The rock festival is set for July 19-22 and will feature Grand Funk Railroad, Kansas, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, Poison and others. For more on these music festivals, you can go to and

But, that halfway location provides Cadott with its most prominent identifying feature.

Cadott is not alone in marking its halfway location. According to, a web site that serves as an online guide to “offbeat tourist attractions,” several places in North America celebrate such locations.  

In a story called, “When Halfway is Far Enough,” the site editors wrote, “We are reminded daily, in everything from Lexus advertising inserts to Tony Robbins infomercials, that halfway is for losers. We are told that we must never stop growing -- emotionally, spiritually, financially -- that we can, will, MUST pursue ever-distant perfection or be left in the dust. What satisfied Americans last week now only satisfies barbarians with socialized economies and feckless dreams.

“And yet, for some of us, there is an invisible belt across the upper reaches of the Lower 48 (and parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario as well) that proves that halfway is far enough.”

Perry, Maine, is believed to be the first place to have marked its halfway location.

“In 1896, an enterprising, dare-we-say ‘visionary,’ American put up a monument -- a tiny hunk of pink granite, now worn and stained with age -- to point it out. It's north of the town of Perry, Maine, which is about as far east as you can get in the U.S. Engraved on it are the words, “This stone marks latitude 45 degrees north, halfway from the equator to the pole’,” reads the feature.

“As you travel westward, other American towns and civic boosters followed Perry's lead. Green highway signs, historical markers, plaques on rocks, even billboards, have been erected to remind travelers they are at a meaningful spot, even if it isn't any more meaningful than the same spot five, or ten, or five hundred miles east or west of it.”

“Probably the boldest 45th Parallel cartographic marker is one created by the town of Halfway, in eastern Oregon. Though originally dubbed Halfway because its post office was between two towns, the town name was later promoted for its proximity to the Parallel. In January 2000, its town council voted to change the town's name to, an e-commerce Web site, to the amusement of journalists around the world.”

Wisconsin has other places that mark the 45th Parallel. Newspaper editor Frank E. Noyes put up plaques around his hometown of Marinette in the 1930s. “One, south of Peshtigo, is diplomatically labeled ‘Theoretical Half Way Point’ because Frank knew that the 45th Parallel is not, in fact, exactly halfway. The Earth is an oblate spheroid, flattened at the poles and bulging at the equator because of its rotation -- which shifts the halfway line slightly north,” wrote.

Plaques also can be found Beaver and Tilden. points out that four spots mark  the "Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere." Two are under water, one is in northwestern China, and the other one is just down the road from Poniatowski, Wisconsin.

Poniatowski is comprised of a church, a bar, and a couple of houses. In the early 1970s, John Gesicki, owner of Gesicki's General Store and Tavern, petitioned the U.S. Geological Survey to mark the spot. Gesicki then named Poniatowski "The Center of the Northwestern World" and established the "45 x 90 Club" at his bar.

Gesicki's closed in 2003, but the survey marker is still in the ground. It is accompanied now by a big wooden sign within a small, square, fenced-in plot of land off a dirt road  called "Meridian Road."

Cadott plans to celebrate its halfway location for a long time.
Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.