1/19/16 (Tuesday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)
How can this be? The center of the world just a mile from our little campground, in the California Sonoran desert? It started when Jacques-Andre Istel, while serving as a Marine in the Korean War, saw this barren land. He fell in love with it, telling his wife that he would do something special with it. Once the idea came, he first wrote a children’s book “Coe the Good Dragon at the Center of the World”. With that book he convinced Imperial County, CA and the Institute Geographique National of France to pronounce this the Center of the World. Then he incorporated the city “Felicity”, naming it after his Chinese wife. He marked the spot with a pink granite pyramid.
Next he built a church for his town, bringing in tons of sand to create a hill for it, because churches are traditionally built on the high point of towns in Europe. You can see it beyond the pyramid, just to the right in my photo above.
He likes to think of this as a “center for memories” and so has begun his History in Granite project, where he is having inscribed everything he thinks is worth telling future generations. Naturally he included his High School and College features, as well as the French Foreign Legion, a history of French aviation, and those who died in the Korean War. I really enjoyed his explanation of the history between the Sunnis and Shiites (Muslims). Click on that image to be able to read it.
It’s only open in the winter months (December-March), with a restaurant open 4 hours a day. $3 to see the grounds, $2 more dollars to step inside the pyramid and get a certificate that notes the moment you stood at the center of the world. We declined the pyramid experience and loved the History in Granite. You can return (for free) to see it again.