© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas Has 4 Of 10 Most 'Middle Of Nowhere' Towns In U.S., Says Big East Coast Paper

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
A view along Kansas Highway 177, the Flint Hills Scenic Byway, which is reportedly less middle-of-nowhere than points farther west in the state.

This is just not the kind of news Kansans want to hear, but: Four of the ten most isolated towns in the United States are in Kansas.

The Washington Post, using data from something called the Malaria Atlas Project, wanted to know what the middle of nowhere looks like. A 22-member team from Oxford’s Big Data Institute spent years building a global map showing how long it takes to get anywhere on Earth based on roads, elevation and a lot of other things.

The Post scraped the data because (this is such an East Coast thing) it wanted to find the spot in the contiguous United States that “best represents the middle of nowhere.” Hint: none of the places it found is on Eastern Time.

The Post used simple criteria: “towns that are farthest from any metro with more than 75,000 people, ranked by travel time in hours.”

With no further delay, fellow Kansans, here’s your “middle of nowhere” list:

#4. Oakley
Population: 2,045
3.7 hours from the nearest town with a population of 75,000.
Perhaps known to cross-country travelers as a stop on Interstate 70, Oakley is 63 miles from the Colorado line. Fun facts: It's partly in Gove, Logan and Thomas counties; and the Wild West Historical Foundation in town has a twice-life-sized statue of Buffalo Bill.

#7. Scott City
Population: 3,816
3.5 hours away from the nearest town with a population of 75,000.
Scott City, the county seat of Scott County, is even closer to Colorado than Oakley is. Cool fact: The northernmost Native American pueblo, El Quartelejo, is located in Lake Scott State Park.

#8. Holcomb
Population: 2,094
3.5 hours from the nearest town with a population of 75,000.
Holcomb, in Finney County, isn't really that isolated — it's just outside of Garden City, but Garden's population is 26,747, not 75,000. Infamous fact: Holcomb is the site of the Clutter family murders, chronicled in the book and movie “In Cold Blood.”

#10. Lakin
Population: 2,216
3.4 hours from the nearest town with a population of 75,000.
Lakin is the county seat Kearny County. The whole town is just 0.98 square miles, according the U.S. Census. Cooler fact: Country and big-band crooner Frank Luther was born in Lakin in 1899. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Joining Kansas in the Top 10 are :

#9. Tonopah, Nevada
#6. Presidio, Texas
#5. Battle Mountain, Nevada
#3. Wolf Point, Montana
#2. Sobey, Montana
... and, the most-middle-of-nowhere town in America, according to the Post: Glasgow, Montana, which is 4.5 hours from, well, anywhere, really.

Correction: This article has been corrected to specify that the Washington Post compiled data about the contiguous United States.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's Metro Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.