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Guide to South Dakota History
Exploration of this area began in 1743 when Louis-Joseph and François Verendrye came from France in search of a route to the Pacific.The U.S. acquired the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and it was explored by Lewis and Clark in 1804-06. Fort Pierre, the first permanent settlement, was established in 1817. In 1831, the first Missouri River steamboat reached the fort.
Settlement of South Dakota did not begin in earnest until the arrival of the railroad in 1873 and the discovery of gold in the Black Hills the following year.
South Dakota's economy in recent years has benefited from an expanding and diversifying industrial base. Agriculture is a cultural and economic mainstay, but it no longer leads the state in employment or share of gross state product. Durable-goods manufacturing and private services have evolved as the drivers of the economy. Tourism is also a booming industry in the state, generating approximately $1.25 billion worth of economic activity each year.
South Dakota is the second largest producer of flaxseed and sunflower seed in the nation. It is the third largest producer of hay and rye.
South Dakota is the nation's second leading producer of gold and the Homestake Mine is the richest in the U.S. Other minerals produced include berylium, bentonite, granite, silver, and uranium.
The Black Hills are the highest mountains east of the Rockies. Mt. Rushmore, in this group, is famous for the likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, which were carved in granite by Gutzon Borglum. A memorial to Crazy Horse is also being carved in granite near Custer.
Other tourist attractions include the Badlands; the World's Only Corn Palace, in Mitchell; and the city of Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickok was killed in 1876 and where gambling was recently legalized to truly recapture the city's Old West flavor
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Black Hills National Forest
Buffalo Gap National Grassland
Dakota Prairie Grasslands
Fort Pierre National Grassland