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South Dakota is the second largest producer of flaxseed and sunflower seed in the nation. It is the third largest producer of hay and rye.

South Dakota is the nation's second leading producer of gold and the Homestake Mine is the richest in the U.S. Other minerals produced include berylium, bentonite, granite, silver, and uranium.

10 largest cities (1998 est.): Sioux Falls, 116,762; Rapid City, 57,513; Aberdeen, 24,865; Watertown, 19,909; Brookings, 17,138; Mitchell, 14,386; Yankton, 14,325; Pierre, 13,267; Vermillion, 11,967; Huron, 11,778

Number of counties: 67 (64 county governments)

State of South Dakota Population:
1860 - 4,837
1870 - 11,776
1880 - 98,268
1890 - 348,600
1900 - 401,570
1910 - 583,888
1920 - 636-547
1930 - 692,849
1940 - 642,961
1950 - 852-740
1960 - 680,514
1970 - 665-507
1980 – 690,768
1990 – 696,004
1998 – 738,171
2000 - 754,844

The state slogan -- "Great Faces. Great Places." -- was introduced in 1990. It refers to the famous faces of Mount Rushmore and all the other interesting people and places across South Dakota. The slogan is seen on license places, promotional materials and some road signs

The state gemstone is the Fairburn agate, a semiprecious stone first discovered near Fairburn, S.D. The stone is found primarily in an area extending from Orella, Neb., to Farmingdale, S.D. It is used in jewelry and is a favorite of rock collectors.



Native Americans inhabited the area of South Dakota thousands of years ago. The Paleo-Indians of about 8,000 B.C. were the first known inhabitants. These warrior-hunter tribes evolved gradually into more stable communities of Plains Villages or Arikara by A.D. 900. They built large settlements and farms. The Sioux didn't arrive in the area until the mid-1700's. It was at this time that they drove out the Arikara and developed their own culture and dominance here. Non-native settlers did not appear here until well into the 17th century. Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle arrived and claimed the lands drained by the Mississippi River to be possessions of France. French fur traders soon arrived as well as many explorers. Louis-Joseph and Francois Verendrye came in 1743. Their claim, in the form of a lead plate, was found near Fort Pierre.

By 1762, Spain had acquired the land, but returned it to France soon after in 1800. Only three years later, France included the area in the famous Louisiana Purchase to the United States. Emigrants did not populate the area greatly until after the early 1800's, mostly because of the remoteness of the area. But by the 1850's, several Eastern land companies had come in, purchased land, and built towns in the hopes of bringing farmers to the area. The rich soil in the area was a good drawing card to these settlers. It wasn't long before many arrived prompting the creation of the Dakota Territory in 1861. Most of the settlements were in the southeastern area.

Because of the continuing encroachment of the new settlers on Sioux land, there began to be increasing tension between the Sioux and the newcomers. A treaty was made which gave the Sioux nation all lands west of the Missouri River. Gold Seekers followed Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer into the Black Hills area, effectively breaking the treaty. The famous battle at Little Bighorn in 1876 was one of the few victories for the Sioux. They were gradually pushed further west, finally ceding even the Black Hills from their lands. By this time the railroad had come into the area bringing more and more settlers. In 1889, there were enough people in the territory to warrant statehood. It was at this time that North and South Dakota were created and admitted into the Union.

In 1890, renewed Sioux resistance began, partly due to the participation of many Sioux and other tribes in the Ghost Dance religion which promised invincibility to all those who participated in the ritual dances. The government imprisoned many of the Indian leaders, among which was Sitting Bull. Following an failed attempt to free him, resulting in his death, many left the reservation. The US Army intercepted them at Wounded Knee, which resulted in a large massacre of over 250 Sioux men, women and children.

After the further ceding of tribal lands, the area filled with settlers and prosperity followed. Over the years, South Dakota has had good times and bad with drought, dust storms and the Great Depression in the 1930's. Following the World War II years, manufacturing and other businesses began to prosper as the area diversified from mostly farming to a more broad spectrum economy. Many areas of the state have a large sector of their economy based on Tourism. The reputation of the "Wild West" has helped to bring tourists to places such as Deadwood where the old west still lives.



The state is divided into two distinct regions by the Missouri River. The river flows south through the center of the state and then moves southeast, forming part of the Nebraska-South Dakota border. East of the river is mostly flat or rolling. Ancient glaciers are mostly responsible for this terrain. The northeast has over 120 lakes left from the receding glacier. In the west is grassland with buttes in the north and the Black Hills in the south. The Badlands are also in the southwestern portion of the state. The Black Hills appear as a surprise in a basically flat area. The range is about 70 miles wide and 110 miles long, but rise up more than 4,000 feet with Harney Peak, at 7,242 feet above sea level as the highest point not only in the state but east of the Rockies.

The Black Hills are the highest mountains east of the Rockies. Mt. Rushmore, in this group, is famous for the likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, which were carved in granite by Gutzon Borglum. A memorial to Crazy Horse is also being carved in granite near Custer

The highest point in South Dakota is Harney Peak at 7,242 feet above sea level
The lowest point is Big Stone Lake at 962 feet above sea level
Mean elevation: 2,200 feet above sea level

South Dakota is located in both the Mountain and the Central Time Zones

Total area - 77,163 square miles

width - 210 miles
length - 380 miles

Latitude - 42°29'30"N to 45°56'N
Longitude - 98°28'33"W to 104°3'W

Neighboring areas:
North - North Dakota
South - Nebraska
East - Iowa and Minnesota
West - Wyoming and Montana




State of South Dakota Website
South Dakota Secretary of State office

Government Links page for South Dakota
Great links page for all levels of government in South Dakota


South Dakota Tourism
711 E. Wells Ave., Room 630
Pierre, SD 57501-3369
Toll-free: 1-800-S-DAKOTA (732-5682)
Fax: 605-773-3256

South Dakota Chamber of Commerce
108 N. Euclid Ave
PO Box 190
Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: 605.224.6161

South Dakota GenWeb Project page
Cemeteries in South Dakota
South Dakota Genealogy Links



Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Two miles southwest of Keystone using US 16A and SR 244
Phone: 605-574-2523
Please call for specific hours and days open.
Campsites and accommodations are available outside the park.
This well-known sculpture of four Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, is carved out of a granite outcropping at the top of the mountain. Sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, supervised the work which was supposed to have depicted each president down to his waist. Borglum died before any more was completed and the work was never continued. An orientation center tells about the history and the significance of the memorial. The sculpture is illuminated for brief periods all through the year. For more details, contact the memorial directly.


Crazy Horse Memorial
4 miles north of Custer on US 16/385
Phone: 605-673-4681
Featuring a sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse honoring him and all Indians. This sculpture by Korczak Ziolkowski is 563 feet high and 641 feet long and depicts Chief Crazy Horse on his pony. Other displays include models, a/v programs, and other information about the sculpture and the artist. There is also a fine art and antiques collection as well as wood and marble sculptures in the studio and workshop of the artist.

Badlands National Park
25216 Ben Reifel Road
P.O. Box 6
Interior, South Dakota 57750
Park Headquarters: (605) 433-5361


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This page was created 6 September 2000

This page was last updated 20 September 2006 at 10:39 pm

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