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Marks of History

South Dakota has a rich history all its own, and we want to share it with state residents and visitors through the Marks of History series. This weekly series focuses on the history that has shaped South Dakota by highlighting many of the historical markers across the state. Each week brings a new marker, story and region of South Dakota.

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Marks of History: Nobles Trail Marker

The Nobles trail was the first federally-funded highway in South Dakota.

12/21/2009

Marks of History: Mentor Graham Home

PIERRE, S.D.- Mentor Graham, who once lived in Blunt, S.D., is regarded as the greatest influence on President Abraham Lincoln during Lincoln’s school years in Salem, Ill.

12/09/2009

Marks of History: The Lone Tree

It all started in 1881with a small cottonwood seedling planted in a hole left by a survey crew. The tiny seedling grew into a stately tree known as The Lone Tree.

12/02/2009

Marks of History: Faith, South Dakota

Founded as the town at the end of the railroad, Faith was originally the hub of a South Dakota homestead boom from 1910-1920.

11/18/2009

Marks of History: Fort Pierre, South Dakota

Fort Pierre, the oldest continuous white settlement in South Dakota, was named after American fur trader Pierre Choteau Jr. of St. Louis, Mo.

11/04/2009

Marks of History: Oahe Dam, Mission School and Chapel

The Oahe Dam project was commissioned in 1944, and upon completion was the largest rolled-earth dam in the world. The reservoir is more than 200 miles in length and has in excess of 2,000 miles of shoreline.

10/28/2009

Marks of History: Minuteman Missile Site

During the Cold War era, South Dakota harbored 150 missile silos on its expansive western prairie. The destructive nuclear force acted as a deterrent to keep the peace for several decades.

10/21/2009

Marks of History: Harvey Dunn

Harvey Dunn was a famous American painter of western life, war scenes and portraits. The South Dakota native first studied art at State College in Brookings, S.D., before studying at the Art Institute in Chicago.

10/14/2009

Marks of History: Yankton College

Beginning in 1882, Yankton College became the first accredited college in the Dakota Territory. Classes were originally held in the Congregational Church, but were later moved to a small three-room building until the Middle Building was erected in 1883.

10/07/2009

Marks of History: Stratosphere Bowl

In the 1930’s, the Stratosphere Bowl was selected as a launching location for two helium-filled balloons. The first balloon launch, known as Explorer I, was in 1934. The second and more successful launch with Explorer II occurred in 1935.

09/30/2009

Marks of History: Typical Sod House

In the 1800’s, sod houses were the primary structure for homes on the Dakota prairie. The Dakota Territory began to offer free land to settlers who built dwellings and occupied the land for five years.

09/16/2009

Marks of History: Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The vision for Mount Rushmore National Memorial started with Doane Robinson, a South Dakota state historian, as a way to increase tourism to South Dakota.

09/09/2009

Marks of History: Mellette House

In 1885, the Dakota Territory was graced with the stately Mellette House. Arthur Calvin Mellette and his wife Margaret constructed the house for themselves and their four boys.

08/26/2009

Marks of History: Battleship X - USS South Dakota

The USS South Dakota was the most decorated war ship of WWII and one of the most decorated U.S. battleships in history.

08/19/2009

Marks of History: Jedediah Smith, Missionary Explorer

Jedediah Smith first ventured into Dakota Territory in the early 1800s.

08/12/2009

Jedediah Smith, Missionary Explorer

Jedediah Smith first ventured into Dakota Territory in the early 1800s. He gained fame as a frontiersman and explorer, and may be acknowledged with mapping out and discovering much of western Dakota Territory.

08/12/2009

Historic Deadwood

The historic city of Deadwood derives its name from dead trees which engulfed the canyon at the time of its founding, but its legends are far from dead.

08/05/2009

Marks of History: KELOLAND Centennial Gold Rush

Dakota Territory was established in 1861. Shortly after, the Black Hills gold rush was booming and luring fortune seekers and entrepreneurs to the Dakotas by the thousands.
07/29/2009

Marks of History: Struck by the Ree

In 1804, at the time of Struck by the Ree’s birth, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were having council near his tribe’s encampment along the Missouri River.

07/22/2009

Marks of History: Ingalls Family Homestead

Nestled between towering trees of the De Smet State Forest, the marshes of Silver Lake, and endless prairie grasses lays a little piece of land where the Ingalls family made their home.

07/15/2009

Marks of History: Pigtail Bridges

In 1939, Cecil Clyde Gideon gained accreditation for designing the first set of pigtail bridges in the world.

07/08/2009

Marks of History: The Mother City of Dakota Czechs

Frank Bem sparked the start of Tabor, S.D., in 1869 by advertising land to Czechoslovakian settlers who were in search of a place to call home.

07/01/2009

Marks of History: The Northern Divide

The Northern Divide, separate from the Great Divide, runs through the northeast corner of South Dakota, near Sisseton.

06/24/2009

Marks of History: State University of South Dakota

The first territorial legislature of Dakota located the University of Dakota at Vermillion on April 21, 1862.

06/17/2009

Marks of History: Wild Bill Hickok’s grave at Mount Moriah

On August 2, 1876, Jack McCall shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back at the No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood, S.D. Today, Wild Bill lies to rest at Mount Moriah Cemetery on Deadwood’s historic “Boot Hill”.
06/10/2009

Marks of History: Hanging of Jack McCall

Jack McCall was hanged for the killing of James "Wild Bill" Hickok, shooting him from behind while he was playing poker at Saloon #10 in Deadwood in 1876.

06/03/2009

Marks of History: Fort Sisseton State Historical Park

The site of Fort Sisseton was chosen for its strong natural defense, among other factors.

05/27/2009

Marks of History: The Badger Hole

Located behind Legion Lake in CusterState Park sits a four-room log cabin made of ponderosa pine and native rock.
05/20/2009

Marks of History: Pierre was a Cowtown

Cowtowns flourished from 1867 until the 1890s when railroads ended the necessity for long cattle drives. By the 1870s, cattle drives resulted in dozens of other cowtowns, including Pierre, S.D.

05/13/2009

Marks of History: American Legion Baseball

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 a as patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veterans organization.

05/06/2009

Marks of History: Campsite of General Custer’s Expedition

Located two miles east of Custer is an open valley where history was made. This area served as the main base camp for General George Armstrong Custer’s expedition to find gold in the Black Hills. Their stay at the “Golden Valley,” as General Custer called it, lasted five days, the longest of any s

04/29/2009

Marks of History: Verendrye Monument

04/22/2009

Marks of History: Medicine Rock

Medicine Rock was a landmark in its day.

04/15/2009

Marks of HIstory: Crazy Horse Mountain

On June 3, 1948, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Chief Henry Standing Bear decided to make their dream of carving a memorial to Crazy Horse a reality. This historic marker, located at the entrance of the memorial on Highway 16, describes why Lakota Chief Crazy Horse was chosen as the model/subject

04/08/2009

Marks of History: Murdo Mackenzie

Back in 1904, few towns had a high-faluting, Rolls Royce man, but Murdo Mackenzie was one of them and he could be found shipping trainload after trainload of Texas steers to the grasslands of South Dakota near present day Murdo.

04/01/2009

Marks of History: Spirit Mound

In 1804, legend had it that Spirit Mound, near present day Vermillion, was inhabited by evil spirits in human form. Reportedly, these “little devils” were 18 inches high and armed with arrows.

03/26/2009

Marks of History: Frontier Log Cabins

In the center of Oakwood Lakes State Park sits a very interesting and historically significant log cabin.

03/18/2009

Marks of History: Rockerville

Rockerville was the place to be in 1876 due to the discovery of gold. By 1880, it was booming with hundreds of buildings and a population of around a thousand.
03/11/2009

Marks of History: First Territorial Capital

03/04/2009

Marks of History: The Sioux Quartzite of Falls Park

The Falls of the Big Sioux River have long been the focus of life in the southeast region of South Dakota. Today, they are a tourist destination and a place to relax and unwind.
02/25/2009

Marks of History: Legend of Hugh Glass

The legend of Hugh Glass, a hard-working fur trapper, dates back to August 1823 in present day Perkins County.
02/18/2009

Marks of History: First Permanent Fur Post

The first settlers within the present boundaries of South Dakota were French fur traders.
02/11/2009

Marks of History: Legend of Punished Woman's Lake

North of the town of South Shore, alongside Highway 20, sits a lone lake. Like other lakes and areas of the northeast region, its name derived from a Native American legend. The historic marker at this site describes this legend, and how the lake got its name.
02/04/2009

Marks of History: First Election in Northwestern United States

Union County, South Dakota, is home to the first election in the northwestern portion of the United States and dates back to the early 1800s.
01/28/2009

Marks of History: The Center of the Nation

In 1959, the geographic center of the United States of America found its home in northwestern South Dakota.
01/21/2009

Marks of History: Where the West Began

Many people believe the South Dakota west began in the Black Hills. This is not necessarily the case. Early on, the west began where a new settlement had ended. Soon, the “new west” was defined by social customs and economics rather than geographic boundaries.
01/14/2009

Marks of History in South Dakota

01/07/2009