Timeline History of South Dakota
1742: The LaVerendrye Brothers, explorers for France, became the first white men to leave proof of their presence in South Dakota. They buried an inscribed lead plate near present-day Fort Pierre, which claimed the area for France.
1804: Lewis and Clark pass through present-day South Dakota on their way to the Pacific Ocean. They return in 1806. This is the first time the U.S. flag was flown in South Dakota
1861: President James Buchanan establishes Dakota Territory. Yankton is named capital.
1874: Rumors of gold in the Black Hills result in the Black Hills Expedition of Lt. Col. George A. Custer. Gold is discovered in the Custer area and the Black Hills gold rush begins.
1889: North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted into the Union as the 39th and 40th states. President Harrison purposely shuffled the document as he signed them so that no one would know which state was admitted first. Pierre is chosen as South Dakota's temporary capital.
1890: More than 250 Lakota men, women and children where killed by the 7th Cavalry in what came to be known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. A solitary stone monument near the town of Wounded Knee marks the site of this tragedy.
1927: Gutzon Borglam began to work on Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The mountain carving features the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
1941: The U.S.S. Dakota was launched. This was one of the most decorated American ships in the war. On two separate occasions, the Japanese reported sinking this ship. For security reasons, the ship was renamed "Battleship X".
1944: Congress passed The Pick-Sloan Plan for development along the Missouri River. This plan includes the construction of four dams along the river: Fort Randall, Oahe, Gavin's Point and Big Bend.
1948: Korczak Ziolkowski began work on the Crazy Horse mountain carving in the Black Hills. When completed, it will be the largest mountain carving in the world.
1989: South Dakota celebrates its 100th birthday.
[Return to top]