The History of Sturgis South Dakota

When most people hear the city Sturgis South Dakota they immediately think about the Sturgis Motorcycle rally. Few people know about the importance of Sturgis in America’s history. Did you know Lewis and Clark passed through or that during the cold war over fifty missile silos were set up to protect America from foreign enemies?

Location: Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is part of Meade County.
Due to its location Sturgis was founded as and still continues to be an agricultural center where Cattlemen and Farmers can come and trade or sell their products.

Sturgis was founded in 1876 the towns name was conceived as a tribute to Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis, a

Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis

Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis

Major stationed in the Army at the local post Fort Meade, and his son Lt. Jack Sturgis who was one of the unfortunate soldiers killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Fort Meade was a very important Calvary training post for the Army. Besides trappers, natives and Army personal Sturgis remained isolated until gold was found in the Black Hills. This out post was established to protect new settlements in the Black Hills.

After the gold ran out Sturgis returned to an agricultural and cattle based community. Then the Cold War happened. The United States invested millions of dollars and placed over fifty “Minuteman” missiles in the country side around Sturgis, this in turn caused the creation of Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The event that made Sturgis a household name.

The Sturgis motorcycle rally first came into being in 1938. The first Rally was called the Black Hills Motor Classic. Legend has it that a group of between eight to ten motorcycle enthusiasts into Sturgis for the first meeting.
The group “camped in the yard of the Classic founder, J.C. “Pappy” Hoel. Pappy and the Jackpine.”.

The next year the gathering was small with local in-state motorcycle club members and a few out of state people showing up. Initially the Classic was more of a family event but over the years the number grew to include anyone who wanted to ride in. How many people come to Sturgis for the biggest rally in the world? The Black Hills Motor Classic brings up to 600,000 extra people into the Sturgis community every August!

Sturgis grew from a small frontier town to a small city which hosts the largest motorcycle rally in the world. What has not changed is the fierce desire to live a frontier style of life one with nature and in this case one with a motorcycle and the road.

A Birdseye view of Sturgis South Dakota

City Street Map of Sturgis


  1. June 16th, 2009 at 02:43 | #1

    How soon will you update your blog? I’m interested in reading some more information on this issue.

  1. July 10th, 2009 at 04:32 | #1