The Badlands National Park, located in southwestern South Dakota, is home to one of the world's richest fossil beds, containing the remains of ancient horses, rhinoceroses, and other prehistoric animals.
Union County, South Dakota, has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. The region was originally occupied by Native American tribes, including the Oyate, Dakota, and Ponca. European settlers started arriving in the mid-1800s, attracted by fertile land and the prospect of gold in the Black Hills. The US government negotiated treaties with the Native tribes, leading to the forced removal of many indigenous peoples from the area.

In 1862, Union County was officially established, named after the Union victory in the Civil War. However, it wasn't until 1868 that land surveying began, leading to an influx of homesteaders from all over the country. The county's rich agricultural potential attracted settlers who laid the foundation for the future growth and prosperity of the area.

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Union County continued to develop, with farming becoming the backbone of the local economy. The construction of railroad lines in the area accelerated growth, making it easier for farmers to transport their goods and enabling trade with other parts of the country. Small towns sprang up, such as Beresford, Alcester, and Elk Point, which served as important centers for commerce and community life.

In the mid-20th century, Union County experienced significant economic and social changes. The mechanization of agriculture brought both advantages and challenges, leading to a decline in the number of family farms. However, the local economy diversified, with the growth of manufacturing and other industries. Today, Union County continues to be a vibrant and prosperous community, with a strong agricultural sector, small businesses, and a close-knit population that values its rich history and natural beauty.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Union County, South Dakota.

  • 1862 - The area now known as Union County is established as part of the Dakota Territory.
  • 1868 - The Homestead Act encourages settlement in the area, and pioneers start to arrive.
  • 1870 - The first post office, named Alcester, is established in the county.
  • 1877 - Union County is officially organized and named after the Union Pacific Railroad.
  • 1879 - The village of Beresford is founded and becomes the county seat.
  • 1880 - The first newspaper, the Union County Courier, begins publication.
  • 1895 - The original courthouse in Beresford burns down and is replaced with a new one.
  • 1904 - The railroad extends to the village of Elk Point, increasing economic activity in the area.
  • 1917 - The Union County Historical Society is founded to preserve the county's history.
  • 1930 - The Great Depression impacts Union County, leading to a decline in population and economic hardship.
  • 1969 - The Missouri River flooding affects parts of Union County, causing damage to homes and infrastructure.
  • 1996 - The Union County Museum is established to showcase artifacts and historical exhibits.
  • 2010 - Union County celebrates its 150th anniversary with various community events and festivities.