Side ANo one knows when the first people came to live on the land
that now comprises Minnehaha County, but native Woodland and
Oneota peoples were here over 1000 years ago. The Big
Sioux River which flows south through the county, appears on
maps in Paris in 1702. The Sioux Indians arrived
soon thereafter and have lived in the area for over 250 years.
The area has had a colorful history. Indian country claimed
by the French was ceded to Spain in 1762 and back to France in
1800. When Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory
in 1892, Minnehaha County was part of that purchase. As
part of the United States, the area was successively under
eight territorial flags: Louisiana, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin,
Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and finally Dakota Territory,
organized in 1861. Minnehaha County was created by the
Territorial Legislature in 1862.
The county, currently 24 miles north and south by 34 miles
east & west had much of its surface formed by the Late
Wisconsin Glacier, about 10,000 years ago. The falls of the Big
Sioux River, its most notable feature, were formed from
the Precambrian pink quartzite about 1.7 billion years ago and
have been a regional landmark since earliest times.Side B
The first European known with certainty to have visited the
Philander Prescott in 1832. He was likely preceded
and followed by a succession of explorers, trappers and traders
until the oxcarts & covered wagons of the first permanent settlers arrived in 1856. The arrival of the first railroad in 1878
opened Minnehaha County to rapid growth. A turbulent era followed,
marked by severe natural disasters, including floods, droughts,
blizzards, and grasshopper plagues. South Dakota became a state
in 1889. Gradually sod homes evolved into prosperous farmsteads
by the end of World War I in 1918.
Like the rest of the nation, Minnehaha County was
transformed by World War II. An important Army Air Force
Technical School was established at Sioux Falls. Two
interstate highways crossed the county, a large regional
airport developed, and new technology transformed agriculture.
Sioux Falls is frequently cited as one of the nation's
most attractive places to live, with Minnehaha County
sharing the honors.