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Dakota Midday: Golden West 100th And The History Of Rural Cooperatives

Today even some of the most remote corners of South Dakota have electricity and phone service.  Many of us take it for granted, but in past decades these utilities were not a given.

As electric and telephone grids spread across the country, many utility companies found that running wire to remote ranches and farms was not profitable. So, for decades isolated rural residents went without services.  Then they started to organize their own utility cooperatives.  The effort received a big boost in Franklin Roosevelt’s administration with the passage of the 1936 Rural Electrification Act.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one Great Plains utility cooperative – Golden West Telecommunications.  The company brings phone and internet service to a wide swath of rural South Dakota.   

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray sat down to speak with Katie Fleming and Greg Olson, two people from Golden West Telecommunications, about the history of the cooperative and how it relates to utility development across rural America.