Deep in the Heart of Texas…and America


Texas State Flag. | Image by Getty Images

In Texas, there are multiple major metropolitan areas that residents may feel are the “heart” of the state, from Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth to Brady and Austin. However, data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau is used to find the “heart” of each state, according to KXAN.

The latest census information reveals the “heart” of Texas to be located at 30°54’34″N 97°19’43″W, KXAN reported. This area is in the tiny town of Sparks, located about midway between Austin and Waco, and not to be confused with the town of the same name located near El Paso.

Sparks is considered a ghost town by Bell County, with only around 40 people calling the small community home. 

Sparks grew around the Kansas and Texas Railroad station in the nineteenth century, according to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), and does not currently have a post office. 

“Sparks is on Farm Road 95 and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad, eleven miles southeast of Belton in southeastern Bell County,” the TSHA website shares. “It grew up around the railroad station in the late nineteenth century and was probably named for the Sparks family, the original owners of the site. Sparks had a post office from 1897 to 1906. The rural district school in Sparks had fifty-two pupils and one teacher in 1903. In 1933 the community had sixty-one inhabitants and one business. By 1964 it had declined to a population of thirty, and a church was located a short distance to the east of the railway station. Through 2000 the population was still thirty.”

This data is also used to find the center of the entire country. This center “point” is “where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if everyone were (sic) of identical weight,” according to the Bureau. It represents the average location where people live in the country.

Census data from 2020 found that center “point” of America to be Hartville, Missouri. The town is home to around 600 people, according to a Census Bureau press release. The Census Bureau says, “Towns in Missouri have been the population centers since 1980.”  

Hartville Mayor Rob Tucker shared his excitement about the news in the press release. 

“It’s a great feeling to live in Hartville,” Tucker said. “It has always been a town with a big heart and is now the heart of America.”

Being able to visualize the center of the population in America helps to see the story of the country, according to the Census Bureau’s acting director Ron Jarmin. 

“The movement of the center of population helps tell the story of this century’s migration South and West. It helps visualize where we live,” Jarmin said. 

The first published calculation of the center of the American population was in 1790, when Kent County, Maryland, 23 miles east of Baltimore, was recognized as the center. Since then, the population center has steadily moved westward as the nation expanded.

The population center in Texas, however, has not followed much of a pattern, KXAN reported. An interactive map from KXAN showed the other areas found as the center of Texas over the years. These locations have been near Waco, Killeen, and Belton. 

Texas is the state that leads the nation in population growth, KXAN reported, and this is reflected in the most recent Census information.        

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Robert Morris
Robert Morris
4 months ago

The center of Texas is between Brownwood and Brady