The first airplane to fly over the North Pole was piloted by South Dakota native Richard E. Byrd.
Day County, South Dakota, has a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1873. Named after Merritt H. Day, a South Dakota pioneer and territorial legislator, the county was formed as part of an effort to accommodate the growing population in the region. The first settlers arrived in what is now Day County in the early 1870s, primarily attracted by the fertile land and opportunities for agriculture.

As more settlers arrived, the county saw rapid development and growth. Towns like Webster and Bristol began to emerge as important centers of trade and commerce. Agriculture played a crucial role in the county's economy, with farmers cultivating wheat, corn, and oats. The arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century further fueled the growth of the county, enabling easy transportation of crops and goods.

Like many communities in the United States, Day County faced challenges during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The agricultural sector was particularly hard hit, as drought, soil erosion, and falling crop prices led to economic hardship. However, the spirit of resilience prevailed, with many farmers adapting their practices, embracing new technologies, and diversifying their crops.

In recent decades, Day County has continued to evolve and thrive. Today, it remains an agricultural powerhouse, known for its diverse agricultural production, including grains, livestock, and dairy products. Additionally, tourism has become an important industry, with visitors attracted to the county's stunning natural beauty, abundance of wildlife, and recreational opportunities. From its humble beginnings to its flourishing present, the history of Day County stands testament to the perseverance and vitality of its residents.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Day County, South Dakota.

  • 1862 - The Dakota Territory is established, which includes present-day Day County.
  • 1873 - Day County is officially organized and named after Merritt H. Day, a prominent politician.
  • 1880 - The town of Webster is founded, becoming the county seat of Day County.
  • 1882 - The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad reaches Webster, leading to increased settlement and economic growth.
  • 1898 - The new Day County Courthouse is completed in Webster.
  • 1912 - The advent of the automobile prompts the construction of new roads and bridges in Day County.
  • 1925 - The state highway system is established, improving transportation connections for Day County.
  • 1952 - The Day County Historical Society is formed to preserve and promote local history.
  • 1978 - The Waubay National Wildlife Refuge is established, providing protected habitat for migratory birds and wildlife.
  • 1997 - The Coteau des Prairies Lodge opens, offering a scenic retreat in the heart of Day County.