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Spirit Mound


PIERRE, S.D. – In 1804, legend had it that Spirit Mound, near present day Vermillion, was inhabited by evil spirits in human form. Reportedly, these “little devils” were 18 inches high and armed with arrows.
Hearing of this legend, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were intrigued, and hiked to the summit to see for themselves. What they found was a vastly different reality. According to the historical marker and Clark’s journal, the men enjoyed “a most butifull (his spelling) landscape; Numerous herds of buffalow (his spelling) were Seen feeding in various directions.”
Today, visitors may stand exactly where Lewis and Clark stood more than 200 years ago. A hiking trail, roughly three-quarters of a mile long, leads from the parking lot to the top of the mound, with interpretive signs along the trail that tell of the legend.
Spirit Mound is located eight miles north of Vermillion on SD Hwy 19. For more information on visitor activities, visit
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical 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.


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.