South Dakota State: Attractions, History, Interesting Facts, Cities

In the imagination of many, the USA is a land of concrete jungles, consisting entirely of skyscrapers, shopping and entertainment centers, and cars speeding along highways. But America is a land of contrasts. Here exists another side of life: quiet, provincial, and homely cozy, as in the state of South Dakota.

This region is known for its rugged mountains, caves, and other natural beauties. There is no hustle and bustle and very few noisy megacities, but there are endless wild prairies, adrenaline, and the excitement of the Wild West.

Brief information about the state:

  • Abbreviation: SD
  • Capital: Pierre (population 13,600)
  • State area: 199,905 km² (ranks 17th in the US)
  • State population: 896,581 people (as of 2021, ranks 46th in the US)
  • Largest city: Sioux Falls, the administrative center of Minnehaha County (population 190,583)
  • Official website: sd.gov

South Dakota Attractions

Mount RushmoreThe famous Mount Rushmore is the most famous and visited place in the state. Carved directly into the mountain rock is an 18-meter granite relief with sculptural portraits of four American founders: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.

Interestingly, in Native American culture, this peak was called “Six Grandfathers.” It is likely that this toponym inspired the idea of creating a majestic monument. Construction work took place from 1927 to 1941 and cost $1 million. Initially, it was planned to depict the Presidents from the waist up, but the allocated funds were enough only for their faces.

Dynamite was actively used in the creation of the historical monument, but none of the builders were injured by explosions or collapses. However, the relief itself was slightly unlucky – at some point, explosives severely damaged the mountain rock, and Roosevelt’s face is now deeper than the faces of the other statesmen.

The project with the Presidents’ relief was not the only one. On the top of Black Hills, located in the southwest part of the state, there is another similar mountain memorial. It is dedicated to an Indian leader who led an uncompromising struggle for the independence of the Lakota tribe. The Indian leader was known as Crazy Horse.

This sculpture was conceived on a much larger scale but unfortunately remained unfinished. Work on the monument in the rock has been ongoing since 1948. There is a severe lack of funds for its construction, as the main source is donations from tourists. If completed, the planned figure could boast a height of 172 meters and a width of 195 meters.

Among other tourist areas, slightly less well-known but equally noteworthy, it’s worth mentioning the City of 1880, Jewel Cave, the “Corn Palace,” Custer State Park, where you can participate in a bison roundup, Badlands National Park, and others.

History of the State

The first to settle the plains near the Missouri River were ancient Native Americans. This people settled here at the end of the Ice Age, but by 5000 BCE, they migrated following the animals they hunted and never returned.

Arikara IndiansSubsequently, the Arikara Indians attempted to settle here. However, they did not last long either. They were succeeded by Sioux tribes: the Lakota and Dakota, whose reservations still exist today.

A little later, settlers from the Old World appeared. In 1743, an expedition of explorers led by La Verendrye arrived here. The brothers declared the lands the property of the large French colony of Louisiana. To confirm their rights, they left a lead plate with names and the date of arrival.

In 1803, by the Louisiana Purchase agreement, all of Louisiana, including Iowa and South Dakota, became part of the United States of America, still without any administrative status.

In 1804, Lewis and Clark’s expedition passed through the banks of the Missouri, the purpose of which was to explore the territory in the newly acquired lands. Eleven years after the explorers’ appearance, Fort Pierre was founded in South Dakota, a trading post specializing in buying furs from Indians. And in the 1850s, the large European settlement of Sioux Falls appeared, whose inhabitants actively engaged in agriculture. Thanks to the development of navigation on the Missouri River and the laying of railway lines, the population in the region continued to grow – on March 2, 1861, the Dakota Territory appeared on the map of the USA.

In 1874, gold was discovered in the Black Hills, and crowds of gold prospectors with shovels rushed south to extract the precious metal. This led to a series of armed conflicts between Indians and the US Army, the last of which is known in history as the “Wounded Knee Massacre.”

Despite these events, or perhaps because of them, on November 2, 1889, South Dakota was declared the 40th state in the USA.

Interesting Facts about South DakotaCrowd of bikers

1. Every two years, the world’s largest gathering of bikers takes place in South Dakota. In the town of Sturgis, there is also a Motorcycle Technology Museum, and motorcycle shows are held.

2. The state is home to one of the largest artificial lakes in the world – Lake Oahe.

3. About 30 tornadoes form in the region annually. Fortunately, most of them do not become destructive, causing no harm to people or their property.

4. South Dakota is home to the only City of Presidents in the USA, Rapid City. There are monuments to all the heads of state who have ever held office, including our contemporaries. Moreover, authorities carefully ensure that all memorials are of the same size, thus equally respected.

5. The state is home to a unique place – a wilderness with underground bunkers where (according to the owner’s assurance) you can survive any apocalypse scenario. The protective structures do not allow radiation, withstand powerful missile strikes, are far from water bodies, and are very capacious: supplies will last at least a year of isolation.

6. The gastronomic highlight of South Dakota is the bison meat burger. Some tourists travel hundreds of kilometers just to try such an unusual sandwich.

7. Locals joke that when rodeo happens, half of the state’s residents watch it, while the other half participates in it.

Famous People from South Dakota

  • January Jones – Actress known for her role as Betty Draper in the television series “Mad Men” and for her performances in films like “X-Men: First Class.”
  • Tomi Lahren – Conservative political commentator and host, known for her commentary on Fox News and TheBlaze.
  • Rocky Bleier – Former professional American football player who overcame severe combat injuries in Vietnam to become a four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Billy Mills – Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the only American to win this event.
  • Tom Daschle – Former U.S. Senator from South Dakota and former Senate Majority Leader, known for his influential role in national politics.
  • Pat O’Brien – Television host and sportscaster, known for his work on programs like “Access Hollywood” and “The Insider.”
  • Kaitlin Doubleday – Actress known for her roles in television series like “Empire” and films like “Catch Me If You Can.”

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