PIERRE, S.D. - Dakota Territory was established in 1861. Shortly after, the Black Hills gold rush was booming and luring fortune seekers and entrepreneurs to the Dakotas by the thousands.
In August of 1961, KELOLAND TV and radio stations partnered with the Dakota Territory Centennial Commission and organized the Centennial Gold Rush to commemorate the anniversary and spirit of South Dakota’s first inhabitants.
Cash in the amount of $35,000 was buried in 1,439 capsules on a plot of land west of Manchester, S.D. On that August afternoon, 150,000 spectators and participants showed up to participate in and observe the gold rush. These “prospectors” were armed with gold shovels won in previous contests. On a signal from band leader Lawrence Welk, participants rushed off to unearth and claim their prizes at the “assay offices.”
The event, which at the time drew the largest crowd in South Dakota history, included a square dance festival, amateur talent show, Boy Scout Camporee, carnival, fireworks display, and appearances by Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Paul Brinegar and Clint Eastwood. The Gold Rush event acted as the climax to the Dakota Centennial year.
There is a marker off US Hwy 14 west of Manchester, S.D., in tribute to the “Gold Rush of 1961.”
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota from 2003-2010 and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.
Information for this release was obtained from “Brevet’s South Dakota Historical Markers”.
The South Dakota Office of Tourism is not responsible for the text included on these markers. Some of the language used at the time of production may not be appropriate by today’s standards. Please view the markers at your own discretion.