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Murdo Mackenzie


PIERRE, S.D. – Back in 1904, few towns had a high-faluting, Rolls Royce man, but Murdo Mackenzie was one of them and he could be found shipping trainload after trainload of Texas steers to the grasslands of South Dakota near present day Murdo.

Born in Scotland, Mackenzie attended parish school and graduated from the Tain Royal Academy in 1869. He served in a law office and in the British Linen Bank. He married Isabella Stronach MacBain in 1876 and fathered five children with her.

He sailed to the United States in 1885 to accept an offer to manage the Prairie Land and Cattle Company in Trinidad, Colorado. After becoming a naturalized citizen, he was elected mayor of Trinidad in 1891. Then, he managed the Matador Land and Cattle Company, and became the founding president of the American Stock Growers Association, for which he testified before Congress and the Interstate Commerce Commission. His testimony led to passage of the Hepburn Act of 1906 which eased railroad fares for western shippers.

President Teddy Roosevelt appointed him to the National Conservation Commission in 1908.

Mackenzie died in 1939 in Denver, Colorado, where he is buried.

The town of Murdo was named after Mackenzie.

The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historic markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at to access the complete list of articles.
The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.


Please Note: The South Dakota Office of Tourism is not responsible for the text included on these markers. Some of the language used at the time of production may not be appropriate by today's standards. Please view the markers at your own discretion.