The Lewis and Clark expedition, which explored much of the western United States in the early 19th century, passed through what is now South Dakota.
Grant County, South Dakota, located in the northeast part of the state, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Dakota and Nakota Sioux. These tribes relied on the land for hunting, fishing, and agriculture.

In the 19th century, European settlers began to arrive in the area. The first permanent settlement was established in 1878, and the town of Milbank was founded soon after in 1880. The town was named after its founder, Jacob J. Milbank, who played a crucial role in the development of the area. Milbank quickly became a center of commerce and agriculture, with the railroad arriving in 1881 further boosting its growth.

Agriculture has always played a vital role in Grant County's economy. The land and climate proved to be well-suited for farming, leading to an increase in population and the expansion of agricultural activities. Wheat, corn, and soybeans became the main crops cultivated in the area, and farming remained a dominant industry throughout the 20th century.

In recent years, Grant County has faced challenges, such as the decline in the number of family farms and depopulation trends seen in many rural areas. However, the community has been resilient and has adapted to changing times. Today, Grant County remains a vibrant community with a strong agricultural heritage, and efforts are being made to diversify the local economy through tourism and other industries.

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

  • 1873 - Grant County is established.
  • Late 19th century - Settlements begin to form in the county.
  • 1880 - Milbank, the largest city in the county, is incorporated.
  • Early 20th century - Agriculture becomes the main economic activity in the county.
  • 1929 - The Great Depression causes economic hardship in Grant County.
  • 1936 - The Civilian Conservation Corps establishes a camp in the county.
  • 1950s - Power lines and rural electrification projects are implemented.
  • 1962 - A large tornado strikes the county, causing significant damage.
  • 1973 - Grant County celebrates its centennial anniversary.
  • Late 20th century - The county experiences population decline due to changing agricultural practices.
  • 2007 - The Wind Energy Conversion System ordinance is passed to regulate wind farm development.