South Dakota was originally part of the Dakota Territory, which also included present-day North Dakota, and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
Brookings County, South Dakota, has a rich and diverse history dating back to its establishment in 1871. The area originally belonged to the Dakota Sioux Native Americans, who were displaced as European settlers gradually moved westward. In the mid-19th century, European immigrants began to arrive in the area, primarily of Swedish and Norwegian descent.

The establishment of Brookings County can be traced back to the arrival of Franklin Moore, who named the county after his hometown of Brookings, in New York. The county was officially organized in 1873 and the town of Brookings became the county seat. Agriculture played a crucial role in the early development of Brookings County, with grain and dairy farming becoming the mainstays of the local economy.

In the late 19th century, the construction of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad brought increased prosperity to Brookings County. This led to a boom in population and economic growth, attracting further investment and development. The establishment of institutions such as South Dakota State University in 1881 further contributed to the growth and development of the county.

Throughout the 20th century, Brookings County continued to evolve and adapt to changing economic conditions. The agricultural sector remained strong, with the introduction of modern farming techniques and the diversification of crops. In addition to agriculture, manufacturing and retail sectors emerged as significant contributors to the local economy. Today, the county is known for its thriving community, vibrant agricultural industry, and its commitment to education and research through South Dakota State University.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Brookings County, South Dakota.

  • 1857 - The Dakota Territory is established, which includes the area that would become Brookings County.
  • 1862 - The Homestead Act is passed, encouraging settlement of the area.
  • 1871 - The town of Medary is established as the first settlement in the county.
  • 1879 - The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad reaches the county, leading to further growth and development.
  • 1880 - The county is officially organized and named Brookings County after Wilmot Wood Brookings, a prominent landowner and pioneer in the area.
  • 1883 - The city of Brookings is founded and becomes the county seat.
  • 1890 - South Dakota becomes a state, and Brookings County is an important agricultural and educational center.
  • 1914 - South Dakota State College (now South Dakota State University) is established in Brookings, contributing to the county's growth and development.
  • 1930s - The Great Depression and drought impact the county's agricultural industry.
  • 1961 - Interstate 29 is constructed, providing improved transportation access to the county.
  • 1973 - The Swiftel Center, a multi-purpose venue, is opened in Brookings.
  • 1997 - The South Dakota Art Museum opens on the campus of South Dakota State University.
  • 2010 - The population of Brookings County exceeds 31,000.