discovery of gold in 1874 brought a flow of settlers
into the Black Hills . Out of the gold
rush grew cities, and other industries became apparent,
such as lumbering, ranching and farming.
Brennan and Samuel Scott, along with a small party of
men, came to the area in February 1876. They camped
in what is now known as Cleghorn Springs, did some exploring,
and decided to lay out the site of the present Rapid
City. A square mile was measured off and the
six blocks in the center were designated as a business
section. Committees were appointed to bring in prospective
merchants and their families to locate in the new settlement.
was a steady influx of new families in the new community.
Six months later (in August 1876) over one hundred people
called Rapid City their home.
Rapid City was being built, the people
resorted to nearby hills and chopped the logs of which
the huts were constructed. The problems of life that
confronted the pioneers of the 19th century demanded
people of quick action and unflinching courage. It was
the time when the elemental law of the "Survival of
the Fittest" was in full sway. In those days, a man's
horse was often the means of saving his life, and to
steal one was considered as great a crime as murder.
One of the earliest hangings in the Hills grew out of
horse stealing, and the site on which this gruesome
event took place is still a historical spot in Rapid
City . On a day in June 1877, word got around
through a group which had gone into the hills to obtain
lumber, that there were either Indians or rustlers north
of the settlement. Sheriff Moulton, first sheriff of
Pennington County, and a posse set out for the Box Elder
Creek region to hunt for the men. They found them asleep
in a washout and brought them into town to investigate
their possession of six unsaddled horses. Quick punishment
was meted out to the horse thieves.
February 1877, the cowboys gathered at the Colssum and
Allen Store and decided to have a dance. It was strictly
a stag affair. Bill Morris furnished the only music
by playing his fiddle as he perched on the store counter.
to some records, the first organized religion came to
Rapid City in the form of the Union
Aid Society in 1878, and later the Congregational Church
joined them in 1879. However, we know that the earliest
settlers got together on the Sabbath to worship and
give thanks. Their meeting place was a crude log cabin
first train to enter Rapid City was
that of the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley (Chicago
and Northwestern System). It arrived in 1886 and was
greeted by a band of pranksters that staged a mock hold-up
which was interrupted by the official welcoming committee.
of a campfire conversation in 1876 by a group of disheartened
prospectors, the city of Rapid City
was born. Named for spring-fed Rapid Creek which flows
through the city, Rapid City has become
a city with the fastest, steadiest growth rate in the
state. Its population, which is presently 54,523, makes
it the second largest in the state.
well geographically, the Rapid City
is the natural eastern gateway to the great-growing
empire known as the West River Region. Diversity of
enterprise for a city of this size is the keynote to
the rapid growth of Rapid City . Rapid
City is the center of a wide livestock grazing
area. It also has a number of small industries. It is
the Black Hills headquarters for a
number of utilities and medical centers. It is also
the home of South Dakota School of
Mines and Technology, Western Dakota Technical Institute,
National American University, Ellsworth Air Force Base,
the South Dakota National Guard and
the State Fish Hatchery.
is Rapid City's main industry. Each
year hundreds of thousands of tourists enjoy Rapid
City and surrounding areas enroute to various
sections of the beautiful Black Hills
and on to Yellowstone. Mount Rushmore
(Shrine to Democracy) is located just 23 miles
southwest of Rapid City , and attracts
over two million visitors each year.
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
boasts one of the finest fossil and mineral museums
in the country. A beautiful collection of Sioux art
and handicrafts may be seen at the Journey Museum located
near the city's center. The unusual Dinosaur Park, with
life-size reproductions of dinosaurs of the Mesozoic
era, sits atop skyline ridge, dividing east and west
Rapid City . A children's fairyland
may be found at Story Book Island where nursery rhymes
come big as life. All wood carvings used in Rapid
City 's Scandinavian Stavkirke
Church are exact reproductions of the original structure
in Norway. All of the main attractions are open free
amusements in the city include nine movie theaters,
live theater productions, fine arts center, The Ranch
amusement park, golf courses, tennis courts, baseball
and softball parks and some of the world's best trout
the winter months skiing and snowmobiling are popular
outdoor sports in the scenic Black Hills .