Millions of people from all around the world visit our great state of South Dakota. It's a tourist mecca, featuring some of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. From East to West, there's literally hundreds of 'must see/must experience' stops in the Sunshine State.

But with that being said, who started it all? Who was the very first tourist that ventured to South Dakota?

Well, he didn't look in awe at the wonder of Mt. Rushmore. He didn't pull off the interstate at Mitchell and snap a photo of the Corn Palace. He didn't get a free glass of ice water and marvel at the Jack-A-Lope at Wall Drug. He didn't even have a hot dog and cotton candy at the State Fair in Huron.

The very first ever recorded tourist to (present-day) South Dakota was the gentleman pictured below.

Percy Frazer Smith - Notable Men of Pittsburgh and Vicinity, Pittsburgh 1901.

His name was Henry Marie Brackenridge and in the interest of total honesty, he didn't actually visit South Dakota because he came here in 1811, so he was actually in what would become South Dakota. And yes, he is credited with being the first recorded tourist. He was hosted by a fur trader named Manuel Lisa.

But who was this guy, this Henry Marie Brackenridge?

Well, he was a high class dude! A lawyer and journalist born in 1786, he also became a U.S. Congressman from the state of Pennsylvania (that would come years after his Dakota visit). It was while living in St. Louis, Missouri that he ventured up to our state (territory at the time) and stayed with the fur trader. And perhaps because of his journalistic background, he has become 'South Dakota's First Recorded Tourist'.

Brackenridge died in 1871 at the age of 74.

Wikipedia Contributed To This Article


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