Interesting Facts About South Dakota

  • Badlands National Park contains the world’s richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old.
  • 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.
  • The largest underground gold mine is the Homestake Mine in Lead.
  • 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.
  • Sage Creek Wilderness is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America.
  • Harney Peak, at 7242 above sea level, is the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies.
  • The 9824-acre Black Elk Wilderness in the center of the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve was named for Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota holy man.
  • Sturgis is home of the annual Black Hills Classic Motorcycle Rally.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Woonsocket is known as The Town with the Beautiful Lake. Lake Prior sits in the middle of town.
  • 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.
  • 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”.
  • Brookings is the home of South Dakota State University, the state’s largest university, with 8100 students, and a staff of nearly 2000.
  • Yankton was the original Dakota Territorial capital city.
  • The Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo details more than 250 rare automobiles including the infamous Tucker and Edsel.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mitchell is the home of the world’s only Corn Palace.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Meridian Bridge built in 1924 was the first structure built across the Missouri River in South Dakota.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Black Hills National Cemetery “The Arlington of the West” is a final resting place of our nation’s veterans.
  • 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.
  • The first & oldest Dakota daily newspaper, published in 1861 is the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan.
  • The U.S.S. South Dakota was the most decorated battleship during World War II.