Hughes County, South Dakota

Historical Articles




from "Dakota", compiled by O. H. Holt, 1885


Hughes county lies exactly in the geographical centre of the south half of Dakota, on the Missouri river, and includes an area of 774 square miles, equal to 495,360 square acres. The Missouri river washes the entire southern boundary, including its windings, for about seventy-five miles. Several large and many small islands lie in the channel. The other important streams are Medicine and Chappclle creeks. A number of smaller streams, made principally from springs in the bluff, flow into the Missouri. The county has no important lakes or marshes within its borders.

The surface of the county is made up of high, rolling prairie, river and creek bluffs, and bottom lands. The prairies are rich and productive, and the broad bottom lands of the river furnish some of the finest stock ranches in the Territory.

There is the usual fringe of timber along the Missouri and in the principal islands, composed principally of Cottonwood.

The soil is a black loam, strongly alkaline, witb clay subsoil, and is remarkably fertile, producing abundantly all the cereals, fruits and vegetables.

Pierre, the county seat, is situated upon the Missouri river, at the western border of the county, and is an aspirant for the capital. It is about 1,100 miles above St. Louis, and is the western terminus of the Chicago & North-Western Railway. The inhabitants are composed principally of intelligent and enterprising people from the East, who, by transplanting their oriental ideas of metropolitan life into Pierre, make it more like an eastern city than a border town. In 1881, a graded school, containing four departments and costing $4,000, was erected, and the enrollment of pupils is large, and the management of the school of the best character. The hotels of Pierre are numerous and exceptionally good. The growth of the original town was slow but steady until the spring of 1883, when, in common with many other places in Dakota, it received a great impetus. Nearly 200 buildings were erected during that season, including a tine brick court home and jail, costing $35,000, several churches, an elegant hotel, a large number of business houses, and many well-built dwellings. Altogether, there are a hundred business houses, a dozen hotels, five banks, two opera houses,
four church buildings, four newspapers, a flourishing system of graded schools, and a local telephone exchange. It is probable that the Sioux Indian Reservation will be opened in the spring of 1885, and bring to Pierre a United States Land Office, and hasten the building of at least two railroad lines to the Black Hills.

In the spring of 1884 was commenced the erection of a Presbyterian college. The building is now rapidly approaching completion, aud will, when finished, represent an outlay of $10,000.

Blunt, situated in the northern part of the county, on the Chicago & North-western Railway, is a town of almost phenomenal growth. It was first settled in the fall of 1882, and already numbers a population of 1,500. Blunt is the centre, from which depart several lines of staces, connecting with postofflces and settlements in various parts of the county. The town contains three churches, costing in the aggregate $8,000, a $3,000 school house, a flouring mill with a capacity of 300 barrels per day, and costing $30,000, and two grain elevators.

Canning and Harrold are towns of very recent settlement, but are developing rapidly, and are destined shortly to become important sites.



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