Why the Capitol should be in Canada and not Colorado
So, those who are familiar with my headcanons would know that, in contrast to the common convention of placing the Capitol in the American Rockies (usually Colorado), I place it in Canada. Specifically that large expanse over Kinbasket Lake (right before it discharges into the Columbia River).
Several factors made me choose that location: the wall-like nature of the Canadian Rockies, an open space big enough for a city-sized square, and a location more isolated from the rest of Panem (like D13, which is incidentally the only other region that I have fully within Canada).
However, I have an additional reason. One that is backed by both information in the text and basic arithmetic. Yep, I used math here.
So what this calculated rationale?
As the Reaping occurs between 1400-1500 (Chap 1), and an hour is given for goodbyes right after (Chap 2), and there is buffer time to get to the station, tentative time of departure for the train to get moving is 1600-1700. So we’ll assume 1700.
When Effie woke up Katniss (Chap 4), light was just beginning to stream in, which suggests that the sun has just risen. If you eliminate DST (likely due to wanting people to have no free daylight in the districts; while for the Capitol, daylight wouldn’t much matter), the average time of sunrise is around 0400.
Since Appalachia is in Eastern Standard Time, and most of the Rockies are under Mountain Time, add two hours to calculate the time between departure and sunrise: 13 hours.
So how do we figure out which destination fits the snuggest within the allotted time? Well, that requires calculating travel time.
First off, the assumption is that the average speed (Chap 3) of the train is 250 miles per hour (which implies that it can go faster and slower depending on conditions); we’ll also assume that “miles” refers to the unit of measure used in the United States as of now.
Secondly, travel distance needs to be found. A strong assumption is that train lines would be built over the old interstates for ease, so Google Maps is a sufficient tool to use. Four locations are used to represent D12 (Scranton, PA; Philadelphia, PA; New Richmond, WV; Richmond, VA), after distances are acquired from each representative D12 spot, then they are averaged out.
That average distance is divided by 250, then 2 (representing a minimum of two hours to factor in stops and possible delays) is added to get the travel time. Then subtract by 13 to get the amount of free time before sunrise. The location with the smallest free time fits the narrative the best.
And remember, this is only to the point of waking up; not to the Capitol. After waking, Katniss still needs to roll out of bed, trundle to the dining car, give her mentor and district partner the stink-eye, indulge in food, more stink-eye, and then go through a tunnel for quite some distance.
What was found is that it only took 8.7 hours to get to Denver, which left more than 4 hours free; same went for Dillon (which required going past the Great Dividing Range and through a tunnel). Even if you go all the way to Salt Lake City (by then, there are no more Rockies to cross), there are 2.6 hours free.
The only American location that was close was Missoula, which had 1.8 hours free. However, by the time you get to Missoula, you have no choice but to immediately go into mountains (ie the tunnels). By the time you get to Coeur d'Alene/Spokane, there’s still 1.1 hours to go with no more Rockies to go.
In contrast, reaching Calgary leaves 1.7 hours free; 1.5 with a longer route. By the time you get into Banff, there’s just around 1 hour. Small enough time to buffer some more without it being excessive. And enough distance from that point to eat breakfast and fight with Haymitch.
In conclusion: I overthink things and have way too much time on my hands.