South Dakota Facts and Trivia

  1. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 6,200-foot Mount Rushmore in 1927. Creation of the Shrine to Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere $1 million, though it's now deemed priceless.
  2. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are sculpted into Mount Rushmore the world's greatest mountain carving.
  3. Fossilized remains of life 50 million years ago have been arranged in unusual forms, which is Lemmon's mark of distinction at the world's largest petrified wood park.
  4. Perhaps the most significant fur trade/military fort on the western American frontier, Fort Pierre Chouteau was the largest (almost 300' square) and best equipped trading post in the northern Great Plains. Built in 1832 by John Jacob Astor's (1763-1848) American Fur Company as part of its expansion into the Upper Missouri region, the trading activities at the site exemplified the commercial alliance critical to the success of the fur business.
  5. Jack McCall was tried, convicted and hanged two miles north of Yankton in 1877 for the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Yankton cemetery.
  6. The site of a rich gold strike in 1875, Deadwood retains its mining town atmosphere. While Deadwood is one of the most highly publicized mining towns of the trans-Mississippi West, much of its fame rests on the famous or infamous characters that passed through.
  7. Tom Brokaw of NBC graduated from Yankton High School and the University of South Dakota.
  8. Belle Fourche is the geographical center of the United States of America, designated in 1959 and noted by an official marker and sheepherder's monument called a "Stone Johnnie".
  9. Bowdle is known for the tallest water tower in South Dakota.
  10. Clark is the Potato Capital of South Dakota. Clark is home to the world famous Mashed Potato Wrestling contest.
  11. In 1803, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, a real-estate deal that at the time doubled the size of the United States.
  12. South Dakota is the home of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota tribes, which make up the Sioux Nation.
  13. Custer State Park is home to a herd of 1,500 free-roaming bison. Bison can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. Historically, the bison played an essential role in the lives of the Lakota (Sioux), who relied on the "tatanka" for food, clothing and shelter.
  14. Jewel Cave is the third-longest cave in the world. More than 120 miles of passages have been surveyed. Calcite crystals that glitter when illuminated give the cave its name.
  15. With more than 82 miles of mapped passages, Wind Cave contains the world's largest display of a rare formation called boxwork.
  16. The Crazy Horse mountain carving now in progress will be the world's largest sculpture (563' high, 641' long, carved in the round). It is the focal point of an educational and cultural memorial to and for the North American Indian.
  17. Badlands National Park consists of nearly 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.
  18. Badlands National Park contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old.
  19. Sage Creek Wilderness is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America.
  20. The name "Black Hills" comes from the Lakota words Paha Sapa, which mean "hills that are black". Seen from a distance, these pine-covered hills, rising several thousand feet above the surrounding prairie, appear black.
  21. In 1898, the first commercial timber sale on Federal forested land in the United States was authorized in the area of Jim and Estes Creeks (near the town of Nemo).
  22. Woonsocket is known as The Town with the Beautiful Lake. Lake Prior sits in the middle of town.
  23. Harney Peak, at 7242 above sea level, is the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies.
  24. The 9824-acre Black Elk Wilderness in the center of the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve was named for Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota holy man.
  25. Sturgis is home of the annual Black Hills Classic Motorcycle Rally.
  26. The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs contains the largest concentration of Columbian and woolly mammoth bones discovered in their primary context in the world! This National Natural Landmark is the only in-situ (bones left as found) display of fossil mammoths in America.
  27. The Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo details more than 250 rare automobiles including the infamous Tucker and Edsel.
  28. Near the shore of Lake Herman, Prairie Village includes the original townsite of Herman, Dakota Territory. It is also home of the Art B. Thomas Hershell-Spillman Carousel that is complete with its operating coal fired boiler and steam engine.
  29. The abundant water flow of Spearfish Creek favored the establishment of a Federal Fish Hatchery in 1898. It is known today as the D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery.
  30. Sioux Falls exists as a city today because the land speculators who staked town site claims there in 1857 came in search of the cascades of the Big Sioux River.
  31. Mitchell is the home of the world's only Corn Palace.
  32. The Flaming Fountain on South Dakota State Capitol Lake is fed by an artesian well with natural gas content so high that it can be lit. The fountain glows perpetually as a memorial to all veterans.
  33. The George S. Mickelson Trail is South Dakota's premier rails-to-trails project. This award winning tail stretches 114 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont.
  34. The Crystal Springs Ranch rodeo arena in Clear Lake was built on a drained duck pond. The former duck pond is now known as "America's Most Natural Rodeo Bowl".
  35. Faith is famous to paleontologists. Several Hadrosaur, Edmontosaurus annectens were excavated on a ranch north of Faith and one of the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex was excavated nearby.
  36. The Silent Guide Monument in Philip was built in the late 1800s by a sheepherder to mark a waterhole that never went dry. Made of flat stones, the guide originally stood fourteen feet high, and could be seen as far as thirty five miles away.
  37. The largest underground gold mine is the Homestake Mine in Lead.
  38. Mato Paha "Sacred Mountain" is the origin of many Native American legends. Rising 1400 feet above the surrounding prairie near Sturgis, and standing all by itself, Bear Butte isn't hard to find. It was used as a landmark by the plains Indians and even today it is considered sacred by the plains peoples.
  39. Black Hills National Cemetery "The Arlington of the West" is a final resting place of our nation's veterans.
  40. The Anne Hathaway Cottage at Wessington Springs is the only structure in the Midwest US that features a thatched roof. The cottage is styled after the original Anne Hathaway home in England.
  41. Brookings is the home of South Dakota State University, the state's largest university, with 8100 students, and a staff of nearly 2000.
  42. Rivers were the highways in settling the western territory. Lewis and Clark named American Creek when they passed through the Chamberlain - Oacoma area while exploring the territory for President Jefferson in 1804.
  43. Yankton was the original Dakota Territorial capital city.
  44. Henry Holland built an English-style mill in Milbank in 1886, three years before South Dakota became a state. Until 1907 it was used by settlers to grind wheat and corn and to saw wood.
  45. The first & oldest Dakota daily newspaper, published in 1861 is the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan.
  46. The Meridian Bridge built in 1924 was the first structure built across the Missouri River in South Dakota.
  47. The Prairie Rattlesnake is the only venomous snake native to South Dakota. The color of the Prairie Rattlesnake varies from light brown to green, with a yellowish belly. Dark oval blotches with light colored borders run along the center of its back.
  48. The U.S.S. South Dakota was the most decorated battleship during World War II.
  49. Newton Hills State Park, south of Canton, is part of a geological feature called the Coteau des Prairie. This narrow strip of rolling hills and forests was created by glaciers and extends along the eastern edge of South Dakota. At its highest point, the Coteau rises to more than 2,000 feet above sea level.
  50. For millions of years, Split Rock Creek near Garretson cut deep gorges through Palisades State Park. Geologists say the Sioux quartzite spires are 1.2 billion years old! Glaciers deposited a thin layer of debris atop the quartzite. Beds of dark red pipestone can be found between the layers. This is one of the few areas in the nation where pipestone is found. The mineral is considered sacred by American Indians.
  51. Thanks to: Crucesdale, JRB049, kkostel

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