Yankton, South Dakota 57078
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NGComets
N 42° 52.253 W 097° 23.633
14T E 631187 N 4747727
Post office in a larger town.
Waymark Code: WMA9QX
Location: South Dakota, United States
Date Posted: 12/09/2010
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member PTCrazy
Views: 3

Yankton is a community and the County Seat of Yankton County, South Dakota and is located on US Highway 81.

The following article was furnished courtesy of
South Dakota Magazine. The story speaks to Yankton's Historic past and touches on today.

Yankton may be South Dakota’s most historic town, but the river that created it is timeless. By Jennifer L. Nielson

Life in Yankton has always revolved around the Missouri River. Native Americans followed the river’s flow to their destinations centuries ago. They named the land “E-Hank-Ton-Wan” meaning “people of the end village.”

Without the Missouri, Yankton might not exist. The river brought steamboats and their captains to Yankton. Steamboats brought not only color and expansion to the budding town; they also brought technology and skilled people.
When Dakota Southern Railway arrived in 1873, river traffic waned. But the final blow to the steamboat industry was the Great Flood of 1881. A huge ice jam burst, and consequent floods sunk some boats and damaged others beyond repair. The remains of several still lie at the bottom of the river; one is visible from the Meridian Bridge when water is low.
As Yankton approached its 100th birthday in 1957, it was designated an “All-American City,” a title it still holds. The honor recognized a century of building the good life in the river city –– and perhaps sweeping the bad into dark corners. “Civility pervaded in the town,” stone mason and local historian Bob Hanson said. “Anything that was un-nice was kept under wraps…. It was made to show the best of everything. No obituaries were published in the paper. Everyone acted in an Eastern civil manner.”

According to Jeff Koster at the Walnut Tavern downtown, it is rumored that an early ordinance confined women to the south side of Third Street, whereas men walked only on the north. That’s why all the bars are on the north side of Third to this day, he claims. But not to worry, both sexes can now happily stroll on whichever side they please.

Pierre Dorian was the first white settler in Yankton. He met the Lewis and Clark expedition in St. Charles, Mo., Hanson said, and accompanied them to Yankton. Hanson led the push to erect a marker near Dorian’s gravesite on the bluff west of downtown, a sloping hill that was once an Indian burial ground, later a quarry, and now a residential street. A plaque remembering “Old Dorian,” as he was known, is affixed to a boulder Hanson brought from the river shore.

The All American City certainly has had some All-American characters. People who have made their mark on history have also left footprints in Yankton. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored the area in 1804 and 1806. Jack McCall, the man who shot Wild Bill Hickok, was hanged and buried here. The Culligan Man of soft-water fame, Emmett J. Culligan, was born here in 1839. Professional football player Lyle Alzado attended Yankton College, and NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw graduated from Yankton High School. Lawrence Welk’s climb to national recognition was boosted by live performances on WNAX radio. Wynn Speece, the “Neighbor Lady,” is one of the longest-running radio broadcasters in the nation.
Aside from its celebrities, Yankton is rich in history, a city of firsts. It was the first capital of Dakota Territory, which in the 1860s included both Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana. The first high school and the first college in Dakota Territory brought education and higher learning to the area, and the first drive-in movie theater in South Dakota entertained audiences for years.

The city also has a rich media history. The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan is the longest-running daily newspaper in the four states of the region. The Freie Presse, a German language paper published here for 80 years –– until WWII –– was one of the highest-circulating weekly papers of its day. Regional legend, WNAX radio, began broadcasting in 1922. Even South Dakota Magazine was founded in Yankton, where for 19 years it has been published in Territorial Gov. John Pennington’s home on main street.
Both the river and the town have changed dramatically over time. The construction half a century ago of five dams, including Gavin’s Point Dam west of town, hobbled the Missouri that Pierre Dorian knew. “The modern Missouri bears no resemblance to the old Missouri before the dam was put in,” Hanson said. The water used to be “the color of strong coffee with a little bit of milk –– full of silt. The river had a sort of magical quality –– it looked like a stream of mercury.” As a child, the river was Hanson’s favorite playground. “When the wind would hit the water just right it produced a dirty colored foam,” he laughed. “The foam would dry into a crust, and you could float on it.”
The dams altered the very nature of life in and along the Missouri. Navigation was terminated, and miles of rich farm land and wildlife habitat were inundated, endangering the entire ecosystem the Missouri fed. The dams also controlled flooding, generated electricity and created vast recreational opportunities. About 1.5 million people visited Yankton this year to camp, boat, swim and fish at Lewis and Clark Lake, generating millions of dollars in revenue for the Yankton area. Not everyone is confident that the changes in the river are for the better. “Whether that is a good or bad thing, I don’t know,” said Hanson. “The river doesn’t seem alive anymore. Before the dam everyone talked about the river, had an eye on the river.”

Losing is nothing new to Yankton. Its assets, achievements, and colorful history aside, few other towns in South Dakota can count as many losses. In 1883 Yankton lost the territorial capital to Bismarck, N.D. When South Dakota became a state in 1889, Yankton lost the state capital race to Pierre. In 1905 Huron took the state fair from Yankton, where it had been for 10 years. Yankton College, founded in 1881, closed 102 years later and was converted to a federal prison camp in 1985. Gurney’s, a more than century-old, family-owned catalog company that shipped garden seeds and nursery plants all over the nation, was sold in 1998 and moved out-of-state. The historic courthouse was torn down this year, and the Meridian Bridge, a Yankton landmark, may soon be converted to a pedestrian walkway.
The setbacks haven’t discouraged chamber of commerce director Bob Cappel. Residents have kept the town alive, he says. “I see strong leaders that have been and still are leaders. The one thing that impresses me most is the progressive attitude of the community.”

In Yankton’s early days, a flood swept through the downtown, damaging many buildings. Some survived the raging waters and still stand today. Many were constructed in the late 19th century, some with sandstone or Sioux quartzite, others with brick.

Yankton is also fortunate to have a leading medical center, which began when the Benedictine sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery arrived in 1887. The monastery is located on a bluff west of downtown with a spectacular view of the Missouri. Sister Cynthia Binder says the site was chosen because it was “out of town and along the river.” Now the tiny town of 1887 has grown around the formerly secluded site like wildflowers around a tree.

Besides the monastery, the nuns have given Yankton a stunning chapel, a four-year college, a regional medical center and an assisted living and senior care complex. “Healthcare has always been a concern of ours,” Sister Cynthia said. “Yankton has attracted some very good doctors. It is comforting to have the healthcare we have in this town.”

Mount Marty College was founded in 1936 in the back yard of the hospital. Today the college attracts students both young and old.

Among the attractions at Riverside Park is a replica of the Territorial Capitol. The white two-story building serves as a landmark of community history; it is used for reunions, weddings and picnics. At Paddlewheel Point nearby, canoeists launch to float one of the last free-flowing stretches of the Missouri. “You can see it the way Lewis and Clark saw it here,” Brian Norton said. “You just have to canoe down it. And we have one of the premium Boy Scout camps in the nation.”

The Missouri River is still the soul of Yankton. Families gather there in every season, for boating, fishing, strolling, picnicking, baseball, concerts, snowmobiling and ice fishing. They no longer worry that the river will wash away their livelihoods; today the river means recreation and revenue. It is the one constant beside the city it helped create. While life bustles along the shore, Yankton changes with the flow.
Type of structure:: Stand Alone

re-enter Zip Code here:: 57078

Current Status:: Still in Use

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