You can dive deeper into history at the Jerauld County Pioneer Museum, which features military, commercial, religious and other historical items from the area. Some of the most popular items include a stuffed conjoined calf and items that once belonged to the Gann Valley Giant, the 7-foot, 3-inch sheriff of neighboring Buffalo County whose ring is so big that you can fit a 50-cent piece through it. Visitors also flock to the display case featuring items connected to Kyle Evans, the town’s most famous son. A country and western musician named South Dakota’s Centennial Troubadour in 1989, he toured the country for decades with his band The Company Cowboys before dying in 2001 as a result of a motorcycle/deer accident. Known for his rich singing voice and reputation as a friendly storyteller, Evans’ legacy can be felt across the community from the Opera House’s dressing rooms that carry his name to the word “Kyle” that resident Elton Kaus keeps mowed in the ditch where Kyle lost his life.
The history seems never-ending in Wessington Springs. Known as a Civil War hero for having seven bullet wounds when he rode through Confederate lines to warn President Lincoln of an impending attack, Cleveland T. Hall is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery. Gov. Robert Vessey’s home still stands in Wessington Springs, a reminder of the resident that helped make Mother’s Day a national holiday by being the first governor to proclaim observance of the day four years before President Woodrow Wilson made a national declaration.
Wessington Springs does all the usual small-town amenities right. You can enjoy the noon buffet or some delicious broasted chicken at the Springs Inn, mingle with locals over a free cup of coffee at Jerry’s Motor Clinic or drop a couple of dollars to swim in the town’s outdoor pool before grabbing ice cream across the street at the Cone Zone. However, you can also get a quality latte and maple bacon donut downtown at Sweet Grass or shop for bargains at the volunteer-run Springs Consignment store, where all profits go back into the community. For $100, you can rent the Opera House for any event, including private movie showings that utilize the building’s state-of-the-art projection system. Looking for somethings specific? Ask a friendly resident and you’re bound to get the answer and maybe some info on secret hiking trails. (Hint: Ask about “Valverndale”.) Stop in and visit with Kristi at the True Dakotan office and you might make the newspaper.