Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station
Neon sign of cowboy on horse
The history of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association along with its office building is now an historic site through the South Dakota State Historical Society. The U.S. Department of Interior will be making its decision as to including it on the National Historic Register.

South Dakota Stockgrowers receives historic designation

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association is celebrating its historic designation granted by the South Dakota State Historical Society at a press conference and open house, May 9 at 3:00p.m.

It is also being recognized as a recipient of the Outside of Deadwood Grant that is available by application and is used to preserve historic locations.

SDSA Executive Director Doris Lauing explains how the official designation was granted.

“We applied to the state historical register based on the significance of the livestock industry in the state and our role in that as an association, as well as the building we’re housed in – in historic downtown Rapid City, S.D.”

Beginning in the 1800’s and known as the Western Stockgrowers Association, various chapters would later combine into the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association that was officially registered with the state in 1893. It is the oldest such organization in the country and the largest cattle organization in South Dakota, according to Lauing.

“The reason for the founding of the organization back in the 1800’s is the same as it is today – to protect the livestock industry against theft and state and federal policies that impact us,” said Lauing. “That’s a big part of  history as a whole in South Dakota .  It wasn’t just gold coming to the Black Hills. It was the open range and cattle.”

The office building of the S.D. Stockgrowers was constructed in 1955 at the urging of the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce.

“There is a really cool history about it.  We were formed in 1893.  During that time, we had our offices throughout western South Dakota. In fact, we were down in what was then known as Hay Camp before it became known as Rapid City.  Going forward, we were planning to construct a one-story building. Back then the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce came to the association proposing it build a two-story building with the chamber renting the upper level. The chamber was located there until 1974 when it moved to the civic center.

Since that time, the second story has been the location of the Department of Criminal Investigation but is now empty, waiting for another renter. It also houses a complete train set that replicates the early railway system in the Black Hills.  The Black Hills Railway Society holds periodic public tours of the unique attraction.

That’s all before you get to the iconic, neon sign, a fluorescent beacon in downtown Rapid City that was built by Rosenbaum Signs of Rapid City, that still services the historic sign. In 1958, the association adopted a trademark consisting of a cowboy on a horse.  A year later Rosenbaum Signs created the sign (colloquially referred to as “the midnight rider”) that adorns the building and has become a landmark in downtown Rapid City.

S.D. Stockgrowers expects to hear from the U.S. Department of Interior in June 2024 as to its acceptance to the National Register of Historic Places.

The press conference and open house is open to the public and will be held at the SDSGA office location at 426 St. Joseph Street in Rapid City, S.D., Thursday, May 9, 2024 beginning at 3:00p.m.

“There is rich, rich history, well over 100 years just in that downtown area,” says Lauing. “We’re very pleased to be incorporated into those areas of historic buildings. We’re really excited. We want to preserve our western heritage.”

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