Had it not been for residents as persistent today as they were a century ago, Huron, located west of Brookings on U.S 14, may have remained just another town along the rail. Surveys for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad first set up camp in 1879. By the mid-1880s, Huron citizens tried to win the status of their territorial capital, and later state capital for their town. What they couldn’t acquire in the commerce that hosting the state government would bring, they made up for with a strong agricultural economy. Today it serves as a regional hub for manufacturing, shopping, and health facilities. The city in Beadle County is home to several fairs and is best known for the “World’s Largest Ringnecked Pheasant.”
Huron’s Campbell Park Historic District, located between Fifth and Ninth Streets, preserves 89 turn-of-the-century structures, many of them modest but well-kept residences in Queen Anne and Colonial styles. A wonderful, flowing sculpture celebrates the contributions made by women to the state. Called “Spirit of Dakota,” it stands outside the Crossroads Convention Center in downtown Huron. Book your Huron Hotels with Reservations.com.
When to Visit
In 1904 Huron was chosen as the site for the annual state fair. Each August the town of 12,500 experiences a population explosion with the opening of the South Dakota State Fair, which takes place on the edge of town. The world’s largest pheasant, tipping the scales at 22 tons, greets visitors along the highway as they arrive for grandstand entertainment, exhibits, carnivals, or the opportunity to see neighbors an discuss local politics. Participants show their best bulls, dairy cows, and calves for a week, then following judging, watch their beloved animals sold at auction. Cowboys and cowgirls ride in rodeo performances, hoping to garner cash prizes offered in saddle bronc, bull riding, and barrel racing. In the exhibition halls, blue ribbons hand from the best-looking tomato, the most impressive squash, the loveliest flower arrangement, and the finest painting. Vendors hawk hot dogs and lemonade to fairgoers wandering around the midway carnival rides. The songs of country western stars fill the night, mingling with the musty smells emanating from the sale barns and beer tents.
Things to Do
Tourists can play a round of golf at one of Huron’s three courses, or enjoy a scenic stroll through one of many lovely parks. Guests are invited to take their pictures with the world’s largest Pheasant, or experience only the Midwest’s best pheasant hunting during the fall. Several charming outdoor murals provide an excellent ground for self-guided tours.
Engineering enthusiasts, architecture connoisseurs, and history buffs will love spending a day at least one of the city’s nostalgic museums. From model trains, pioneer photos and Depression-era memorabilia to Native American artifacts and stained glass, there’s something of interest to all sorts of visitors. The Pyle House Museum was first built as the home of the United States’ first elected woman senator. The 1894 building is also an excellent example of Queen Anne architecture. The Centennial Center has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has memoirs, Indian artifacts, and Centennial memorabilia. The Dakota Land Museum is dedicated to the preservation of Beadle and Huron Counties’ heritage. Over 5000 memorabilia and artifacts are currently displayed.