South Dakota, you didn’t build that!


South Dakota has one of the most unique tourist attractions in the U.S.A. And they ruthlessly use it to sell their state, too. Simply put, South Dakota’s tourism depends on Mount Rushmore. There are lots of other interesting things there, like the Badlands and Jewel Cave, the Black Hills and Wind Cave, and other sites too numerous to list here. But the crown jewel is those four presidents carved into the side of a mountain.

You might think that South Dakota, as one of the reddest of the red states, wouldn’t accept government handouts as freely as they do. After all, the state of South Dakota didn’t pay so much as one dime to construct Mount Rushmore. The large majority of the funds–for the dynamite to blast away the rock, and the workers who risked their lives to clear it away, and the sculptor who envisioned it in the first place–came from the federal government. And the feds administer it to this day, hiring the tour guides and collecting the admissions and running the souvenir and concession shops. It’s an exceedingly sweet deal for South Dakota, it seems to me.

South Dakota businesses, such as the famous Wall Drug, rely on government roads like Interstate 90 to bring business (i.e., tourists) to them. South Dakota taxes all of these transactions and pockets the money, hopefully–but not likely–aware of the debt they owe to the federal government and its spending. So not only is South Dakota one of the largest recipient states there is, but their main economic cash cow was created by federal government, too. So we can say, in all honesty, to South Dakota that “You didn’t build that!”

2 thoughts on “South Dakota, you didn’t build that!

  1. I didn’t realize all this. I’ve been to the Badlands, Black Hills, Wall Drug and Mount Rushmore but that was over 20 years ago as a teenager. Interesting info though.

    1. We went there last summer (2011) and stayed in Custer state park. It’s basically a nature preserve with a free-ranging buffalo herd. One particular buffalo came to our campsite of an evening to graze on the grass nearby. Let’s just say he wasn’t a quiet animal. There’s lots to see and do in SD, if you’re ever inclined to drive out that way. I especially love the Badlands, for some reason.

      Thanks for reading, as always.

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