45x90 Marker at exact point, NW of Wausau

45×90: The Center of the NW Hemisphere

Wisconsin feels like the center of it all, doesn’t it? And the 45×90 point proves that for the Northern and Western Hemispheres, it is! Technically, it’s the exact center of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere.

45x90 center sign

On Earth, the 90th Meridian (90°W) marks the halfway point between the Prime Meridian (which runs through London and other locales as 0°) and the International Date Line (180°). In other words, it’s the midpoint of the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile, the 45th Parallel (45°N) marks the theoretical halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, making it the midpoint of the Northern Hemisphere. Now, this one is a little more debatable, since the slight flattening of the earth’s sphere near the poles means from a mileage standpoint, the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator is actually about nine miles north, but it depends.

In western Marathon County, 45°N and 90°W meet. The point is prominent on every globe and major world map you’ve ever seen. There are four of these “double-halfway” points on the Earth; this is the only one easily accessible on land. 45×90 is a very unique geographical landmark.

45x90 Area walkup

This path leads you to the point where 45°N and 90°W meet.

45x90 Marker at exact point, NW of WausauFor centuries, this significant geographic point sat under corn stalks in a farmer’s field; Meridian Road ran north-south about 300 yards west of the 90°W line and a parking lot by the road featured a marker, noting the spot was “near.” In 2017, the exact point became marked and accessible to the general public; a walking path leading from the parking lot leads you there. Signs provide insight on the location’s significance and a concrete and stone marker notes the exact point of the exact center of the Northern Hemisphere. You can stand on it, around it, whatever you want.

45x90 marker, aerial view from drone

The 45×90 marker from above.

 

Directions from Highway 29 Eastbound: Near mile marker 149, turn north of County M and follow it to County U. Turn right on U to Meridian Road. Turn left on Meridian and 1/4 mile north the parking area will be on your right.

Directions from Highway 29 Westbound: Take Exit 150/Edgar (County H) and head north on H. After a few miles, turn left on County U and follow it to Poniatowski. At the main intersection (you’ll know it, trust us), turn left/west, which is a continuation of County U. About one mile down, turn right on Meridian Road; about 1/4 mile north the parking area will be on your right.

“45×90 Club” Guest Book
Wausau is the nearest sizable city to the 45×90 point, and if you make it to their Visitor Center, you can sign the guest book and be a part of the “45×90 Club” – showing you’ve been there. They’ll even give you a commemorative coin!

45×90 Address:

5651 Meridian Road
Athens, WI 54411




Big Manitou Falls and some of the spectacular rock formations near it.

Big Manitou Falls, Wisconsin’s highest waterfall

With an oft-brownish tint in the water – which is just from the natural minerals in area – Big Manitou Falls sends the Black River tumbling 165 feet over a rocky drop on its way to the St. Louis River delta.

Big Manitou is Wisconsin’s highest waterfall and fourth highest east of the Rockies. Much of the year the water is either frozen or relatively light in volume, but during snow melt and after significant rains the falls generate a roaring noise and add vibrancy to the park’s already stellar natural beauty.

Big Manitou Falls drops 165 feet.The rock formations at the bottom of Big Manitou Falls make for a frothy set of swirls for the water, which eventually make their way down the rest of the Black River to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. The noises emanating from Big Manitou caused many Native Americans to feel they were hearing the voices of a “Great Spirit,” which helped lead to the name “Gitchee Manitou.”

Big Manitou Falls is the centerpiece of Pattison State Park, named for early settler Martin Pattison. He was an early lumber man and miner, and amassed enough wealth to build a mansion in Superior, just up the road, that today is known as Fairlawn Mansion & Museum.

superior-pattison-bigmanitou08Pattison State Park’s construction in 1920 (and its 1935 expansion as part of a CCC project) allowed people to visit the falls, walk over three miles of trails, and experience the beauty of Big Manitou Falls from multiple angles. There are several scenic overlooks of the falls; one is accessible from trails that go under Highway 35, the others can be accessed just off County B.

Big Manitou Falls has essentially twin siblings upstream in the form of Little Manitou Falls, two waterfalls each 31 feet high. Those are accessible by heading south on Highway 35 about 1/2 mile; signs will point you to Little Manitou and the site of the early labor camp for the park.

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Little Manitou Falls is just upstream from Big Manitou, also in Pattison State Park.

You’ll find Big Manitou Falls and Pattison State Park along Highway 35 about 15 miles south of Superior in Douglas County – the far northwestern corner of Wisconsin. The majesty of these falls makes it worth the drive. You can access the falls and park via several county roads heading west from the U.S. 53 freeway, too.

 

 

Timms Hill, Wisconsin’s highest natural point

At 1,951.5 feet above sea level, Timms Hill is Wisconsin’s highest natural point. Located in Price County, it’s in the Town of – wait for it – Hill (clever, no??) just south of Highway 86 and also bounded by Highways 13 and 102. The small town of Ogema is just to the west, and Tomhawk is about 17 miles to the east.

ogema_timmshillsignTimms Hill was designated the state’s official highest natural point after a survey in 1962 made the determination. For many years, Rib Mountain on the edge of Wausau was considered the highest point. Several hill peaks in this region, however, peak higher. Towering above nearby Bass Lake, Timms Hill is 48.5 feet short of being able to claim true “mountain” status, since the threshold is officially 2,000 feet (Rib still gets away with calling itself a mountain, even though official geographers call that a hill, too.)

The best access to Timms Hill (by vehicle, at least) is from Highway 86 at County C (from the west) or County RR (from the east.) They take you to Timms Hill County Park, which includes the beautiful Bass Lake and Timms Hill itself, which you access via a gorgeous, narrow, twisty drive leading to a parking area. From there, several trails let you wander the area and access the observation tower, which offers a view extending 30 miles or more in every direction.

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By the time you’ve climbed the tower, you’re at or above 2,000 feet above sea level and looking out across the chunk of Wisconsin.

Once you climb the tower, the views – especially in the fall – are fantastic! See more photos below:




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