Dell Rapids

Through its rich history and traditions lasting more than 100 years, Dell Rapids has become a prominent city in the area because of its ongoing familial heritage, its dedication to commercial, natural, and religious endeavors, and a spirit of community identity that separates it from other small populations in the region.  Settled in the late 1800s, the town has seen its share of events--from devastating fires, crippling snowstorms and blizzards, and overwhelming Big Sioux River floods to the notorious bank robberies of the 1930s and the still celebrated summertime festivals, Quarry Days and Cootie Days.


Business has boomed through the years. The rock quarries have helped define the town's identity and form the structures of some of the oldest buildings in the area. And the dells themselves have fueled production at mills and dams since the early days of the city, leaving an irreplaceable mark on the town's history.


With a military history dating back to the Civil War and commemorated with well-kept statues and memorials and a dedicated American Legion post, the city also has respect and awe for those who would give their lives to serve the country.


While it is situated on the southeastern edge of South Dakota, on the northern brim of Minnehaha County, Dell Rapids has secured an identity as a town with a unique and well-documented history. Its citizens have kept the town on the map through discoveries, such as botanist Charlotte Elliott's work with bacteria in corn, Titus Unger's invention of a more efficient and easier-to-use minnow bucket, and Lucile Fargo's written works, which have kept the stories of the people of the prairie alive.


More than 140 years have passed since Peter Morse helped bring "Dell City" to fruition in the fall of 1871, and every year since has added to the storied tale of Dell Rapids.  Without the help of the early settler's vision to build dams, bridges, and roads to suit the population, the town would never have the buildings, businesses, and memories or traditions and events kept alive through communtiy involvement.


Thoug it underwent a name change and a significant popultion boost thanks to years of business and interest growth, what was once dell city still maintains much of its original heritage as dell rapids. the early industrial phase of the town's history was fueled by mills powered by the Sioux River and the rock quarries still in use today. railroad compaines defined the commodities business in the area and led to the commercialization of the downtown distrct. the arrival of the dieson family and their widely known department store helped advance the city on the dells, which has evolved greatly with time.


With venues such as the historic Grand Opera House, the former dance pavilion and the still in operation dell theatre, the town has seen a variety of visitors seeking top ntoch arenas for performance and production. however, dell rapids has not avoided its share of destruction, such as the silkensen service station fire. the town also saw a string of bank robbieries in the 1930s with the dell's own first national bank falling victim to the fbi's public enemy no. 1 in 1934.  Traditions like the national corn husking contest or the annual quarry days are still going strong.

History of Dell Rapids

200 West Sith Street  Sioux Falls SD 57104             (605) 951-9200             info@minnehahahistory.org

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© 2016  by Minnehaha County Historical Society