South Dakota September 18, 2019
The Missouri River In South Dakota Is A Beautiful Piece Of Living History
When it comes to famous rivers in the United States, there are none quite as prominent and historically significant as the mightly Missouri. Spanning an incredible 2,341 miles, the Missouri River is the world’s fourth longest river system (when paired with the equally mighty Mississippi) and has long been a source of both transportation and overall quality of life for early inhabitants. While the Missouri River is vital to America as a whole, it is even more significant to South Dakota, our history, and our general way of life.
Dating back some thousands of years, the Missouri River served as a life source for early Native American inhabitants, who used the water not only for drinking and hunting but also traveling from one area to the next.
While most of these early uses were not well documented, its later explorations certainly were, beginning with French fur traders Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, who traveled the Missouri in 1673 while establishing Fort Benton, Montana: the largest fur trading post in America.
After Jolliet and Marquette's groundbreaking journey along the Missouri River, came the most iconic of all: the 1804 Lewis and Clark Exploration, in which these pioneers and their crew traveled the river in an effort to explore the American West.
During their time in South Dakota, the Lewis and Clark party met with and befriended the Dakota Indians, hunted for food, and camped in several areas (including Yankton, Bon Homme Island, and Vermillion) before continuing their journey west.
While there haven't been any other explorations quite as iconic as Lewis and Clark's, the Missouri River has continued to be an essential part of South Dakota life, as it has even served in agricultural and industrial capacities, as well as a source of food for humans and animals alike.
In addition to being an essential part of everyday life, the Missouri River is a popular spot for South Dakota outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating, and swimming.
Despite its many positives, the Missouri River has also been a source of destruction, thanks to damaging floods that destroyed hundreds of farms and cities, resulting in such dams as the Oahe and Fort Randall.
While we may take the Missouri River for granted (especially those of us who see it on a near-daily basis), it remains an integral part of South Dakota life that we should never take for granted. Did you know all about its history? To learn even more about the mighty Missouri, check out
The Underrated Natural Wonder Every South Dakotan Should See At Least Once.