The history of Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls is a city with a diverse past and rich history.

  • A Native American heritage and pioneer settlers helped to shape the area and offer interesting sites that are still around today.

Falls Park is an iconic landmark and the birthplace of Sioux Falls. Formed by the Big Sioux River, the falls tumble over a series of lock ledgers and served as gathering spot of indigenous people. In the mid-19th century, European settlers built a mill and harnessed the waterpower of the falls. This was the beginning of Sioux Falls’ growth. In modern times, Falls Park is a heaven of walking trails, sculptures and a visitor center that draws in visitors from all over the world. The Old Courthouse Museum is a beautiful example of architecture originally built in 1962. It is the site of a museum that details the city’s history by way of exhibits, artifacts and period rooms. It’s a wonderful opportunity to tour displays on the Native American tribes who inhabited the local area, pioneer life and the development of Sioux Falls into a thriving urban center. The building is a stunning example of Romanesque Revival architecture and iconic clock tower. Pettigrew Home & Museum was once the residence of South Dakota’s first US Senator, Richard F. Pettigrew. Constructed in 1889, the Queen Anne-style mansions offers insight into life during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The preserved interiors and period furnishings are a step back in history. While the Great Plains Zoo is a tourist destination because of the collection of animal species, it also includes the Delbridge Museum of Natural History. The museum is dedicated to Native American artifacts, fossils and displays pertaining to the natural history of the area.


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