South Dakota is a place rich in history. From culturally-significant Native American sites to much more recent Cold War historic sites, these nine historic landmarks, monuments and memorials offer opportunities to learn about our state’s history – and South Dakota’s importance in our country’s history, too. Make plans to visit one of these sites soon!
1. Bear Butte, Meade County
Bear Butte was designated as a state park in 1961, and a National Historic Landmark in 1981. It holds great spiritual significance for the Plains Indian tribes, and many journey to this place to leave tobacco pouches or prayer cloths hanging from trees here. Human artifacts dating back more than 10,000 years have been found here. Visitors today will enjoy camping, horseback riding, hiking and fishing in this beautiful place.
2. Blood Run Site, Lincoln County (SD) and Lyon County (IA)
The Blood Run Site sits on the border of South Dakota and Iowa. It's an archaeological site that was home to the Oneota culture for more the 8,500 years. Good Earth State Park sits inside this National Historic Landmark - visit to enjoy hiking and picnicking.
3. Deadwood Historic District, Lawrence County
The historic district of this little town has quite a history. In its early days, Deadwood was notorious for its lawlessness and violence. Brothels, saloons and gambling houses were plentiful, and the gold seekers who came to this place were well-entertained. Today, the historic district contains many original buildings dating back to the nineteenth century.
4. Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark, Shannon County
The Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 took the lives of as many as 300 Lakota people. The site of this horrible massacre was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Visit the monument, which marks the site of the mass grave there.
5. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Jackson County and Pennington County
During the Cold War, this place was an important site for our country's defense. More than 1,000 nuclear missiles were housed here; hundreds still remain. Stop by the Visitor Center to learn all about the Cold War and Minuteman Missiles. Then, take a tour of the Delta-09 missile silo to see a real (unarmed) nuclear missile! 24545 Cottonwood Road, Philip.
6. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Pennington County
Perhaps South Dakota's most recognized memorial, Mount Rushmore was named a national memorial on March 3, 1925. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are carved into the Mount Rushmore's granite cliffs. This beautiful, historic place has more than 2 million visitors every year.
7. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer County
The Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota's Black Hills is the largest mountain carving in progress in the entire world! The purpose for this memorial is to preserve the culture and traditions of all Native Americans. Visit the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center to learn even more.
8. USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial, Minnehaha County
The USS South Dakota was one of the most decorated battleships in naval history. Its contributions to World War II were crucial to the war efforts. The city of Sioux Falls wanted to purchase the battleship for a memorial, but it had already been scrapped, so they got creative. The memorial is laid out along a concrete foundation that represents the size of the battleship, and several parts that were salvaged sit in the spots where they would have been located on the ship. The memorial is in Sherman Park, 12 St and Kiwanis Avenue, Sioux Falls.
9. Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer County
Jewel Cave is the third longest in the world, with over 180 miles of passageways mapped (and more yet to be explored). Take a guided tour - the park service offers four tours that range in difficulty from easy to quite strenuous. Jewel Cave is located 13 miles west of Custer.
Did you know that South Dakota has the largest collection of mammoth remains in the country? Take a look at
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