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Yankton County: History on the River


PIERRE, S.D. – Along the Nebraska border, Yankton County occupies a historic piece of land in southeastern South Dakota. The communities of Gayville, Lesterville, Mission Hill, Utica, Valleyview, Volin and Yankton are located here. The county was named for the Yankton band of the Sioux Indians.

Bordered on the south by the Missouri River, Yankton County has played a major role in South Dakota’s history. The Lewis & Clark expedition journeyed through this area, and on August 27, 1804, stopped to meet with the Yankton Sioux. The two groups met for several days, making speeches and exchanging gifts in the interest of negotiating peace.

Today this locale is frequented for its beautiful scenery and exciting annual events, like the Yankton Riverboat Days and Summer Arts Festival. Here patrons enjoy a fun-filled event featuring more than 130 artists and crafts booths, over 50 food vendors, concerts, food, parade, classic car show, children’s games, and more. The festival is held each August at Riverside Park.

Also, visit the annual Holiday Parade of Lights the Friday before Thanksgiving in historic downtown and the Holiday Open House the Saturday before Thanksgiving for family fun. The open house includes in-store demonstrations & activities, carriage rides, holiday designs, cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities, loft tours, authors, and artists.

The Missouri River provides ample opportunity for water recreation activities such as sailing, water skiing and jet skiing.  Fishermen here will find a great selection of walleye, crappie and smallmouth bass.

The Uniquely South Dakota series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight unique aspects and attractions in each of South Dakota’s 66 counties. This profile was researched and compiled by Jennifer Anderson, public relations intern for the Office of Tourism.


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