South Dakota March 25, 2019
7 Things You Didn’t Know About The History Of South Dakota
Typically, South Dakota isn’t considered to be a weird or quirky state (a la Colorado; the Austin, Texas area; or all of California), but we have some pretty strange parts of our history that make us a little… err, unique? Take, for instance, these seven things you didn’t know about the history of South Dakota:
1. Badlands National Park is said to be one of the richest fossil beds in the world.
If you don't think of fossils when you think of the Badlands, think again, as this rocky area and its steep canyons are - as per the National Park service - home to "ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse and saber-toothed cats [that] once roamed here."
2. The Black Hills Gold Rush began after General George Armstrong Custer found some of the mineral during an 1874 military expedition.
This one is dedicated to the out-of-staters who have only heard of Custer in their American history high school class.
3. Arguably one of the most heinous of recent South Dakota-area crimes was committed in November 1973.
One of the darkest stories to ever come out of SoDak was the murder of four Sioux Falls teens who were camping in nearby Gitchi Manitou, Iowa when they were ambushed and executed by the Fryer brothers. The three assailants kidnapped the only girl in the group and assaulted her, but she escaped and survived, later identifying and testifying against the trio who were sentenced to life in prison.
4. Though Chief Iron Nation died and was buried in South Dakota in 1894, his grave would not be listed on the National Register of Historic Places for another 120 years.
Despite this, the Chief - who signed both the Treaty of Fort Laramie and Treaty at Fort Sully - did have the state's first known grave marker erected for a Lakota chief (1934).
5. While many believe that Mount Rushmore was never completed because of Gutzon Borglum's death, it was also partly due to the fact that funding was cut off because of WWII.
The original design included not only the president's heads, but down to their waists.
6. While the last South Dakota gold mine closed in 2001, people continue to dig in hopes of finding more of this precious metal.
They may never strike it rich, but they're dedicated to giving it a shot.
7. It may take place in Kansas, but the Wizard of Oz's Dorothy was actually inspired by a South Dakota girl.
Did you know that L. Frank Baum was originally from South Dakota? Or that his niece, who lived in a yellow brick house in Aberdeen, was the "real" Dorothy? Now you do.
Learn even more about SoDak’s history by clicking
7 Horrifying South Dakota Stories You Didn’t Learn About In History Class.