Pierre, South Dakota, (population 13,899) has been the state capital since shortly after the city's founding in 1880. When South Dakota achieved statehood in 1889, its residents voted for Pierre as the capital three times, once that very year as well as in 1890 and 1904. A permanent capitol building was constructed in 1910. Located on the Missouri River, Pierre's central location in the state was key to it being chosen as the capital.
The community grew rapidly as the western and eastern sections of Pierre competed economically. However, by the time the city was designated as the state capital, western Pierre had become the primary business district. The development of South Dakota's state government in Pierre allowed the city to continue to grow.
Today, Pierre is home to the Cultural Heritage Center (CHC), which houses the South Dakota State Historical Society (SDSHS), whose museum celebrates state and local history. The SDSHS offers classes and volunteer opportunities in and around Pierre. The city is currently involved with the SDSHS's Central South Dakota Heritage Tourism Education Program (CSDHTE). Funded in part by a Preserve America Grant as well as by private contributors, the goal of the program is to develop and implement an interpretive and educational plan for heritage tourism resources, focusing on the region around the state capital.
In 1989 the city government created the Pierre Historic Preservation Commission (PHPC) to promote, document, and develop the city's historical resources. The commission provides a walking/driving tour of historic homes in Pierre, and annually honors local property owners who go above and beyond normal maintenance to preserve and restore older homes and buildings.
Pierre is located on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which features four Certified Sites in the Pierre area, including the SDSHS museum. The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent seven days in the area late in September of 1804, just a few months into their two-year trek. The PHPC provides visitors with a guide to local viewing points that were important to the Expedition or were mentioned in Lewis and Clark's journals.
In 2007 the city held a celebration commemorating the centennial of the completion of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Bridge across the Missouri River between Pierre and Fort Pierre, and in June of 2010 held another celebration, this time for the completion of the state capitol building 100 years earlier.
Designated a Preserve America Community in February 2010.
For more information
City of Pierre Historic Places
South Dakota State Historical Society
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Pierre and Fort Pierre