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10 facts about South Dakota on its birthday

Brent Duerre

Happy birthday South Dakota! Our great state was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with our neighbors to the north as the 39th and 40th states. President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the papers and signed one at random, with the order going unrecorded.

To celebrate here are 10 facts about the Mount Rushmore state.

1. As of the 2020 census, South Dakota’s population was 886,667, a population change of +8.9% since the 2010 census. Sioux Falls remains the largest city with a population of 192,517.  

2. Pierre is the state capital of South Dakota and is one of four state capitals in the United States that is not served by the Interstate Highway System. The others are Juneau, AK, Dover, DE, and Jefferson City, MO.

3. The highest peak in South Dakota is Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills at 7,242 feet. The lowest point in the state is Big Stone Lake located on the border of Minnesota at 965 feet.

4. You might have heard about the world-famous corn palace in Mitchell but did you know South Dakota once had a Grain Palace? Erected in 1893 located in Aberdeen, the palace burned to the ground in 1902.

5. Speaking of palaces, did you know that the current Corn Palace in Mitchell is the third one built? The present building was completed in 1921, just in time for the Corn Palace Festivities.

6. Arthur C. Mellette was the last Governor of Dakota Territory and the first Governor of the State of South Dakota. He is the namesake of the town Mellette located south of Aberdeen and the county of Mellette located in the south-central portion of the state.

7. The state tree is the Black Hills Spruce which is a variety of White Spruce that is widely distributed across northern North America and native to the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.

8. The state flower is the American Pasque which grows wild throughout South Dakota and much of North America in the spring. You might hear the American Pasque also called the May Day flower.

9. The state insect is the honey bee. In 2021, honey production from South Dakota producers with five or more colonies totaled 12.3 million pounds! South Dakota is ranked second in the nation for honey production.

10. South Dakota is a paradise for those interested in rocks, minerals, and gemstones. The rose quartz, which can be found in the Black Hills, was designated the state mineral in 1966.