Introduction - South DakotaLocated in the Midwest region of the United States, South Dakota is bordered by six other states; Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming. If you are like most people, when you think of South Dakota, you think of Mount Rushmore, but there is much more to this rural state than this famous landmark. What is lacking in hustle and bustle is more than made up for in natural scenic beauty, rich history, and outdoor activities. Custer State Park, where you will find Needles Highway, is a must see for any visitor to the state. Did you know that summers are hot and winters are extremely cold in this state? Find out other facts you may not know about South Dakota in the interesting information below. Both kids and adults will find the lists below easy to read and educational.
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South Dakota Quick Facts
- South Dakota was the 40th state to become part of the USA.
- It became a state on November 2nd of 1889, the same day that North Dakota became a state.
- The state capital of South Dakota is Pierre.
- Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota. Other large cities within the state include Rapid City, Aberdeen, Brookings, Watertown, Mitchell, and Yankton.
- South Dakota's population is only 844,877 (2014 United States Census Bureau estimate) making it the 5th least populous state in the US.
- With a total area of 77,116 square miles it is the 17th largest state in the United States.
- The state flower of South Dakota is the American pasque flower.
- The name given to residents is South Dakotans.
- The official nickname of South Dakota is Mount Rushmore State. Unofficial nicknames include Sunshine state and Coyote state.
- The state song is "Hail, South Dakota".
- The state motto is "Under God, the people rule".
- The major bodies of water in South Dakota include the Missouri River (the state's longest and largest river), James River, White River and Cheyenne River as well as Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Oahe and Lake Francis Case.
South Dakota Interesting Facts
- Mount Rushmore, also known as the President's Mountain was constructed by Gutzon Borglum. He began his fourteen year work of art in 1927. It features the profiles of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. With approximately three million tourists annually, it is one of the most well-known attractions in the United States.
- In the southwestern part of the state are the Black Hills. This is a range of low mountains that covers approximately 6,000 square miles (15,539 square kilometers). Located in the Black Hills is the state's highest point, Harney Peak, which has an elevation of 7,242 feet (2,207 meters).
- Located just outside of Custer, South Dakota, lies Jewel Cave, the third longest cave in the world. With over 175 miles (282 kilometers) of passages, the walls of the cave sparkle with calcite crystals. Originally discovered in 1900, scientists are continually finding more cave space each year.
- One of the largest herds of free roaming bison in the world can be found at Custer State Park in South Dakota. There are approximately 1,500 bison in the park and they roam freely with other wildlife on over 70,000 acres of land.
- Located in the town of Lead, South Dakota is the Homestake Mine. The mine, which began operating in 1877 and closed in 2002, was the largest and deepest gold mine in the Western Hemisphere.
- Prairie Rattlesnakes, which range from 35 - 45 inches long (89 - 114 cm) are the only poisonous snakes found in South Dakota.
- Located inside of Custer State Park, Needles Highway, a scenic drive through the Black Hills, contains so many twists and turns that it is closed during the winter months.
South Dakota Historical Facts
- Human beings have inhabited the area that is now South Dakota for thousands of years. The groups of Native American Indians that have lived in South Dakota include the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota. Together, they make up the Sioux Nation.
- The land that is now South Dakota was part of the land purchased by Thomas Jefferson as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
- On December 29th of 1890 the Wounded Knee Massacre occurred at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. U.S. troops who were attempting to disarm the Native Americans opened fire killing around 146 Sioux, including several women and children. Thirty one U.S. soldiers were also killed.
- In the 1930s South Dakota, along with several other plains states, experienced a long drought along with severe dust storms in what has been dubbed the "Dust Bowl". The drought along with inappropriate farming techniques devastated farm land. This disaster devastated the state's economy and caused many South Dakotans to flee the state.
- The USS South Dakota, also known as "Battleship X" was used in every major naval battle during World War 2 from 1942 - 1945. It became one of the most decorated battleships in U.S. history.