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Pennington County , located in the western part of the state was created from unorganized territory in 1875 during the famed "Gold Rush of the Black Hills".  The county , named for Territorial Governor John L. Pennington, was duly organized in 1877, with Sheridan, a small mining community, designated the first county seat.  Rapid City became the county seat in 1878. The population of Pennington County, in 1900, was 5610.  In 2000, the population was 88,565.

Whereas mining was the original industry in the county when it was organized, by the year 2000, mining was virtually non-existent and tourism and agriculture had become the major industries.  Rapid City has also become a major medical and retail center for residents of not only western South Dakota, but for eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska and North Dakota, but for southeastern Montana as well.

The most famous landmarks for the county remain the Badlands and Mount Rushmore.  Several million tourists visit these attractions each year, bringing their dollars to the area and sharing our rich history.  The Journey Museum in Rapid City provides visitors with an insight into the geological and human history of the area.


Pennington County in 1895

Click on the map above for a link to a larger version of this 1895 Atlas.