South Dakota

Pennington County, South Dakota

County History


1881 Business Directory Altamine

1885 County Historical Information

Newspapers Published in 1885, Pennington County

Rapid City

Rapid City Walking Tour

Dakota 1885
Compiled by O. H. Holt

Pennington County is immediately south of Lawrence county, and extends eighty miles east and west, and twenty, north and south. The surface is about equally divided into mountainous and open country, the western portion extending into the heart of the Hills, and the eastern including the main valleys and plains. About one-half of the county is timbered. Sufficient drainage is afforded by the Box Elder, Rapid, Sping and Battle creeks. The surveyed lands include nearly one-half the area of the county, a large share of which is occupied by homesteaders and ranchmen.

Dakota 1885
Compiled by O. H. Holt


Black Hills Index, Dem.......Rapid City
Black Hills Journal, Ind..... Rapid City
Republican.................. Rapid City

Dakota 1885
Compiled by O. H. Holt


Rapid City, in the northern part of Pennington county, was founded in 1880, and has since maintained a steady growth. The city is well supplied with schoolsand churches, and contains about thirty mercantile establishments. It has two printing houses, a library association, four hotels, several civic organizations, and various manufacturing industries. The population is estimated at 1,200.

Rapid City SD Walking Tour
The orientation of Rapid City's downtown is slightly off true north. This is due to the founder's compass following the magnetic declination of 13 degrees at the time the city was platted in 1877.
The downtown loop is a short trip through the history of downtown architecture. The area contains many iconic buildings from Rapid City's history. One of the tallest is the Hotel Alex Johnson, located at 523 Sixth st. Construction began in August 1927 one day before construction began on Mt. Rushmore.
Other notable buildings include the Buell building, the Duhamel building, and the original 1915 Rapid City Fire Station. At the west end of the loop is the First National Bank and at the east end is the Motor Service Building.
The North Loop highlights Rapid City's early Railroad history taking you down 7th street to the original 1924 Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad freight house. Passenger depots and warehouses were built to accomodate travelers and the shipping and receiving of Products. A number of these were built by the Railroad.
The East loop includes the Pennington County Courthouse, the Creamery, and the Rapid city Laundry building. The Laundry was built in 1929.
The South Loop passes the original City Hall, the 1915 Carnegie library and 1923 High School which now also contains the performing arts center.
During the summer of 1927 Calvin Coolidge spent three months in the Black Hills, The Rapid City High School was coined the summer white house maintaining a local office for the president to conduct his portion of the nations business.
Other notable buildings are the Faith Temple, Emanuel Episcal church and the original Black Hills Oldsmobile and Cadillac.
The West loop takes you past historic signs at Who's Hobby and Bob's Shoe Repair. On the west side of Mt. Rushmore RD is the Gambril building, the Rapid City Garage (current Murphy's building). At the far west you will pass the original Souix trading post and Minnil USA History Museum, now home to the Rapid City Dept of Parks and Recreation. The building was constructed in the early 1930's by the WPA on the site with Halley Park(1915). This is also the site of the 1879 "Pap" Madison Cabin.
As you walk east back towards downtown you pass the 1912 Federal building which originally housed both the Federal offices and the Post Office.

Source: National Park service and South Dakota Historic Preservation Office.
Submitted by J.M. Kell



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