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Pennington County, South Dakota

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Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Pennington County, South Dakota.

Official Website

Pennington County was created on January 11, 1875, and it was fully organized by April 19, 1877. The county's boundaries were adjusted in 1877 and in 1898.

In 1874, US Army commander George A. Custer led a group into the Black Hills area. He and some of his officers climbed the crest now called Black Elk Peak, and made a toast to US General William S. Harney. They named the peak for Harney, and this name was used until 2016. This expedition reported that gold could be found in the Black Hills, which spurred a gold rush into the future county area. The mining settlements that sprang up were in violation of a treaty signed with the Sioux Nation in 1868.

In 1923, Doane Robinson, superintendent of the SD State Historical Society, began promoting the concept of a giant sculpture carved from a Black Hills mountain. By 1927 this concept took substance, when work on Mount Rushmore began.

Shortly after the US entered World War II, an Army training airbase was established in Pennington County. It has continued until the present, now known as Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns, Townships & Communities

Addie Camp | Ajax | Ash | Ashland Heights | Box Elder | Caputa | Castle Butte | Cedar Butte | Colonial Pine Hills | Conata | Creighton | Crooked Creek | Ellsworth AFB | Etta | Fairview | Farmingdale | Flat Butte | Green Valley | Hill City | Hisega | Huron | Imlay | Johnson Siding | Keystone | Lake Creek | Lake Hill | Merritt (part) | Moon | Myers City | Mystic | New Underwood | Owanka | Pactola | Pedro | Peno | Quinn | Rainy Creek/Cheyenne | Rapid City (County Seat) | Rapid Valley | Redfern | Rochford | Rockerville | Scenic | Sheridan | Shyne | Silver City | Sunnyside | Teddy Bear | Three Forks | Tigerville | Wall | Wasta | Wicksville

Unorganized Territories

  • Central Pennington
  • Dalzell Canyon
  • East Central Pennington
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Northeast Pennington
  • Rapid City East
  • West Pennington



Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places

Badlands National Park (part)

Black Hills National Forest (part)

Buffalo Gap National Grassland (part)

Minuteman Missile National Historical Site

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial