Historical Markers in
Pennington County, South Dakota

(Mount Rushmore) Chronology A City Divided Abraham Lincoln After the Fire Berlin Wall Segments Black Hills Veterans Memorial Born of Volcanos Castleton Celebrating Victory Cheyenne River Rest Area Cheyenne River Rest Area Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Cliff Shelf Nature Trail Confrontation Construction of the Wall Early Places Explorer II Follow the Horseshoes through Founders Park Plaza George Washington Gutzon Borglum Gutzon Borglum Harney Peak Lookout High Security Hill City Historic Madison Ranch History of the United States of America Invisible Warriors I've Been Working on the Railroad Journey to Wounded Knee Jungle on a Seabed Landscapes Measuring Gage Shut Down Missouri River Multiple Purpose Management in Action Native American Culture Newton Lake CCC Camp Not Just Any Old Railroad Line Pactola Dam & Reservoir Peter Norbeck Pioneers and Native Americans Purple Heart Memorial Highway Rapid City Founders Camp Site Rapid City's Founders Rapid Creek Flood Mark Rapid Trout Rockwell B-1B "Lancer" Rushmore Workers Sheridan Tank Traps The American Commitment The Berlin Wall Memorial The Black Hills Central Railroad The Carrol McDonald Post No. 246 The Cruel Border The Eagles The Father of Mount Rushmore The Galena Fire Chronology The Historic Pap Madison Cabin The Journey of The Pap Madison Cabin The Power to Carve a Mountain Theodore Roosevelt Thomas Jefferson Von Woehrman Building Walter Dale Miller: Water for a Thirsty West Welcome to Founders Park Plaza Wildlife and Fire World's Only Corn Palace - Mitchell "Work Call"
The town of Deadwood, South Dakota was a notorious Wild West town, known for its lawlessness and frequent shootouts. Wild Bill Hickok was famously shot and killed in Deadwood's Saloon No. 10.
Pennington County, South Dakota, has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The region was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Lakota Sioux, who relied on the abundant natural resources for their livelihoods. The area later became part of the Dakota Territory, established in 1861.

In the late 19th century, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills region sparked a rush of settlers to Pennington County. This led to conflicts between the Native Americans and the newcomers, culminating in the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, which marked the end of armed Native American resistance in the area. The mining industry continued to flourish, attracting people from all over the country, and the city of Rapid City was founded in 1876 to support this growing population.

During both World Wars, Pennington County played a significant role in supporting the war efforts. The area was used as a training ground for soldiers, and Ellsworth Air Force Base was established near Rapid City in 1942. The base played a crucial role in the Cold War, housing nuclear-armed B-52 bombers. Today, Ellsworth Air Force Base remains an important military installation.

In recent years, Pennington County has experienced growth in sectors such as tourism and education. The Black Hills attract visitors from around the world who come to see iconic landmarks like Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. Rapid City has also become a hub for higher education, with institutions like South Dakota School of Mines and Technology promoting research and innovation in various fields. Overall, Pennington County's history is shaped by the blending of Native American heritage, mining booms, military activity, and modern advancements.

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

  • 1875: Pennington County is established as part of the Dakota Territory.
  • 1890: Rapid City is founded as the county seat.
  • 1893: The Black Hills and Badlands Forest Reserve is established, encompassing a large portion of Pennington County.
  • 1911: The Rapid City Weather Bureau Station is opened in Pennington County.
  • 1941-1945: During World War II, the Rapid City Army Air Base is constructed, bringing significant military presence to the county.
  • 1972: A disastrous flood hits Rapid City, causing significant damage and loss of life.
  • 1980: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located in Pennington County, is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1992: The Black Hills National Forest, including parts of Pennington County, is designated as a National Scenic Byway.
  • 2010: Rapid City's population exceeds 70,000, making it the second-largest city in South Dakota.