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Apart from the brief visit of the Scandinavians in the early eleventh century, the Western Hemisphere remained unknown to Europe until Columbus's voyage in 1492. However, the native peoples of North and South America arrived from Asia long before, in a series of migrations that began perhaps as early as forty thousand years ago across the land bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska.
South Dakota History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in South Dakota history.
1700 - From about this time, beads, knives, and tools from Europe showed up on the plains. Horses traded from the southwest and, later, guns from the east greatly changed life in Dakota.
1743 - The LaVerendrye Brothers, exploring for France, become the first white men to leave proof of their presence in South Dakota. They bury a lead plate on a hill on the west bank of the Missouri River near present day Fort Pierre to claim the area for France.
1760 - The Sioux Indians, having been pushed out of Minnesota by the Chippewa, first reach the Missouri River.
On their way to the Missouri, the Sioux drove the Omaha Indians from the Big Sioux and James River valleys.
Sioux arrival at the Missouri ignites a long war with the Arikara for control of the Missouri Valley in central
1803 - The United States makes the Louisiana Purchase from France. The area that will become South Dakota is part of the Purchase.
1817 - Joseph LaFramboise starts a fur trading post at the site of present day Fort Pierre. This marks the
beginning of the oldest continuous white settlement in South Dakota.
1857 - The white influx into South Dakota receives a boost with the establishment of a settlement
at the site of present day Sioux Falls.
1878-1887 - This is the period of the Great Dakota Boom. Settlers pour into Dakota. The railroads provide a
1890 - Pierre is chosen as the permanent capital of South Dakota. A number of
1896 - Andrew E. Lee, a Populist, is elected as the third Governor of South Dakota.
Lee was the first non-Republican governor. Only five other men who were not
Republicans have served as governor, four being elected and one succeeding to the
office on a resignation.
1900 - The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad reached the Missouri River at Evarts
in northern South Dakota. Evarts quickly became a major shipping point for cattle
from western South Dakota.
1906-1907 - Both the Chicago & North Western and the Milwaukee Road build west from the Missouri River to Rapid City. The North Western beat the Milwaukee to Rapid City by several months. Development of western South Dakota was greatly aided by the establishment of two direct rail links with eastern South Dakota and eastern markets.
1906 - The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad begins construction of its Pacific Coast Extension.
The Extension, when completed in 1909, gave the Milwaukee a line to the Pacific coast and put SouthDakota on a transcontinental rail line. The town of Evarts was abandoned when the Milwaukee decided
1910 - The new capitol building in Pierre was opened for use. Designed by the same architects who designed the Montana capitol, the new capitol ended the possibility of new fights over the sight of the state capitol. Although growth in the size of state government required an addition to the capitol building in the 1930s and the construction of several separate office buildings, the building opened in 1910 has continued to serve as the capitol to the present day.
1917-1918 - The United States was involved in World War I. South Dakota's major contribution to the war was the 147th Field Artillery Regiment. The 147th was created out of half of the 4th South Dakota Infantry and two batteries of Oregon National Guard Artillery. The 147th saw heavy action as it provided artillery sport for ten different American and French divisions. The regiment received numerous decorations and citations from both France and the United States. After the war's end, the 147th was retained as part of the South Dakota National Guard.
1927 - Gutzon Borglum begins work on the Mount Rushmore monument. The monument contains the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Borglum's work had its origin in the desire of State Historian Doane Robinson to have a monument to American history created in the Black Hills. Although never completed, the Rushmore monument is still a major tourist attraction.
1988 - South Dakota suffers from severe drought conditions. The drought had its beginnings in the fall and winter of 1987, when rain and snow amounts were far below normal. Farmers and ranchers in many parts of the state were faced with partial or
total crop failures and severe lack of feed for cattle.
Lightning caused a large forest fire in the Black Hills in July. Helped along by existing
drought conditions, the fire destroyed approximately 16,000 acres in the vicinity of
State History Timelines
State History Timelines
Chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in United States history from discovery to present
What is the past, and why is it important? How do we learn about events in the past?
Study history will allow students to gain a frame of reference for understanding history and for recognizing that the past is different depending on who is remembering and retelling it.