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20 (Suspicious and Somewhat Useles) Facts About South Dakota
The state that gave you forced perspective photos of tourists picking Mt. Rushmore's nose is back with 20 almost believable facts.


Official Motto: “Under God the People Rule”
Unofficial Motto: “Under God the People Rule (We Just Don’t Have a Lot Of’em To Do It”)


South Dakota’s name is derived from two Native American Sioux Dakota words: “Dakota”, meaning “Uh, That’s JustOur Name”, and “Hekahele itoka kasota mapiya oyate oaako iyakahea”, meaning “South”.


The geographical center of the United States has been determined to be Belle Fourche, South Dakota, so designated by a huge, 200-foot-tall red pin stuck into the center of town.


The largest underground gold mine in South Dakota is the Homestake Mine in Lead. Ironically, the largest lead house in South Dakota is the Goldmine Home in Stake.


The famous Mt. Rushmore monument took 14 years to complete. It was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who, contrary to popular belief, was not a founding member of the pop group “Abba”.


The World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park is located in Lemmon, South Dakota, next to the world’s largest collection of broken drill bits and busted saws.


The Sage Creek Wilderness in the Badlands is overseeing the re-introduction into nature of the Black-Footed Ferret, the tastiest and most endangered mammal in North America.


Wild Bill Hickok was killed while playing poker in the city of Deadwood, South Dakota, holding aces and eights, which became known as the “dead man’s hand”. The cigar brand he was smoking became known as the “dead man’s cigar”, followed by “dead man’s rickety saloon chair”, “dead man’s argyle socks”, “dead man’s hair tonic”, etc., until the saloon owner threatened to shoot everybody if they didn’t knock it off with the “dead man’s” stuff.


Clark, the potato capital of South Dakota, hosts a Mashed Potato Wrestling contest each year. Competition is fierce, as losers are doused in gravy and eaten.


Towering starkly some 1400 feet above the prairie near Sturgis, Bear Butte is easy to find. It is used by visiting junior high boys as their main source of whispering and snickering.


There are an estimated 1,500 free-roaming buffalo in Custer State Park. Most keep to themselves, but occasionally a few wander drunkenly into bars bellowing and looking for their ex-girlfriends.


Woonsocket is known as “That Town With The Hilarious Name That Should Be A Character In A Douglas Adams Book.”


Wind Cave National Park is one of the longest and most complex cave systems in the world. It is home to a rare formation known as boxwork, which is made by the remains of thousands of discarded Amazon delivery boxes left by ancient Native Americans.


The Herschell Spillman steam carousel in Prairie Village featured a steam-powered calliope and a coal fired boiler. It was sunk off the coast of Virginia in a battle with the iron-clad ship HMS Warrior.


The most decorated World War II battleship was the U.S.S. South Dakota. It featured over 15,000 multi-colored bulbs, 2,000 hand-blown glass ornaments, 13 tons of tinsel and a gigantic rotating gold star on the conning tower.


Mitchell is the home of the world famous Corn Palace. Emperor Gustav Corn still holds court each day from his throne of glued-together Jiffy Mix boxes, throwing cans of creamed corn at startled tourists.


The tallest water tower in the state is in Bowdle. The shortest water tower in the state is a small pond with a hose coming out of it in Hosmer.


The Anne Hathaway Cottage in Wessington Springs is the only thatched-roof structure in the country that features a shrine to Mr. Drysdale’s famous secretary from The Beverly Hillbillies.


The Flaming Fountain on South Dakota State Capitol Lake is so named because the original builders hit a gas main during construction and were too lazy to fix it.


Visitors to Badlands National Park can see over 35 million years of fossil evidence, including a saber-toothed cat, a dog-sized brontosaurus, a bird that apparently played records, and a stocky humanoid wearing a fuzzy “Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes” hat.

Photo Credit Nicolas Raymond cc