Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The best parts of this book are the introductions to South Dakota and to each of the four regions into which Hasselstrom divides the state. In these sixty pages, she distills the state's history and cultural geography. Linda Hasselstrom is one of South Dakota's most accomplished native writers. Her writing is clean and easy to read. She explains what it is to be South Dakotan as only a native could, but retains the ability to step back and see the state objectively.

Intended for an audience of armchair travelers, vacationers, and casual history buffs, the book is organized around four geographic regions: the farmlands east of the Missouri River, the Missouri River trench and adjacent counties, the thinly settled ranch land of West River, and the tourist oriented Black Hills and Badlands. Within this framework, Hasselstrom discusses the history loosely associated with particular highways, which are often modern expressions of old transportation corridors. Typically, she discusses local places using a three point pattern: origin of the town name, interesting local event, and summary of a historically important local person. Most towns receive three paragraphs; larger and more historically significant towns are given up to a few pages of discussion. Hasselstrom does not consider every currently occupied town, but she does include several ghost towns.