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10 Fast Facts About South Dakota:
1/ If we compare Sioux Falls (the biggest city in the state at 153,888 in 2010) to that to California, then the city population of Sioux Falls would make it only the 31st biggest city (by population) behind Lancaster, California with a city population of 156,663. By contrast, the 31st largest city in South Dakota, Redfield had a city population of just 2,333 people in 2010.
2/ The Capital of South Dakota, Pierre was specifically chosen because it lies roughly at the geographic heart of South Dakota. It had a relatively modest population of just 13,646 people in 2010, with its most notable feature being the State Capitol Building which was constructed between 1905 and 1910 to a similar design to the one used on the Montana State Capitol Building.
3/ The geographic heart of the fifty United States is located in South Dakota, 20 miles north of Belle Fourche (Lebanon in Kansas claims the title for the 48 contiguous states) and was revealed as such in 1959 when the U.S Coast and Geodetic Survey announced the results of their survey activity. The reason for the distinction in 'Official Center' between Lebanon in Kansas, and Belle Fourche in South Dakota is that the admission of Hawaii and Alaska into the Union in 1959 has had the effect of creating a new concept of what 'center' means.
There are plaques at both Lebanon in Kansas and Belle Fourche designating them as the "Geographic Center of the United States", but in true diplomatic fashion the Geodetic Survey no longer endorses any location as the center of the US. Lebanon in Kansas is perhaps better known, and in many ways makes more intuitive sense to most normal people as having a better claim on the title. But taking Alaska and Hawaii into the equation there is a good claim for South Dakota, so take your pick!
Note - Interestingly, on the Belle Fourche Plaque they identify a THIRD city as having a claim! Smith Center, Kansas largely because the exact latitude and longitude places the center for the contiguous United States somewhere between Lebanon and Smith Center in Kansas.
4/ There have only been two astronauts who were born in South Dakota; Michael E. Fossum from Sioux Falls, and Charles D. Gemar from Yankton.
5/ The official state flower of South Dakota is the American Pasqueflower, the official state tree is the Black Hills Spruce and the official state bird is the Ring-Necked Pheasant.
6/ The population of South Dakota has recently shown signs of increasing more rapidly with population growth of 8.5% between 1990 and 2000, and 8.2% between 2000 and 2010. But for most of the 20th Century the population of South Dakota hardly changed at all, from 692,849 people in 1930 to 696,004 people in 1990.
The population of South Dakota had risen to an estimated 816,463 by July 2010.
7/ One of the most famous books to come out of the wilderness days was Laura Ingalls Wilders famous Little Town on the Prairie, where she described early days spent in De Smet, South Dakota. Whilst she was actually born in Wisconsin, the family moved around a lot, and one of her later books, The Long Winter, described the long, harsh winter of 1880-81 that the family spent in De Smet, South Dakota, and five of her other books are also based around experiences from time spent in South Dakota.
Every year the residents of De Smet host a pageant in July which honors Laura Ingalls Wilder with open-air theater productions of her books.
8/ South Dakota's first newspaper, the Dakota Democrat, began publishing in Yankton in 1858.
9/ Here are some average low and high temperatures for some different cities in South Dakota in August (in Fahrenheit):
10/ One of the most iconic American images has to be the carvings of the four Presidents at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial near Keystone, South Dakota. This was sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln Borglum between 1934 and 1939, and was originally intended to be from head to waist for each President, but federal funds were not forthcoming, and so the project finished at their heads.
You can see a full-size model at the site itself that was constructed to show what the final carving would have looked like, but unfortunately it was never carried out.
This is what the difference would have looked like (the one on the right was a scale model constructed by the scuptors in 1936):
The four Presidents that are depicted are: (in brackets are the dates they were President)
George Washington - April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797 Thomas Jefferson - March 4, 1801 - March 4, 1809 Theodore Roosevelt - Sept 14, 1901 - March 4, 1909 Abraham Lincoln - March 4, 1861 - April 15, 1865