Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota
Downtown Rapid City
Gateway to the Black Hills, City of Presidents
|• Mayor||Steve Allender|
|• City||55.49 sq mi (143.72 km2)|
|• Land||55.41 sq mi (143.51 km2)|
|• Water||0.08 sq mi (0.21 km2)|
|Elevation||3,202 ft (976 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||US: 469th|
|• Density||1,226.4/sq mi (473.5/km2)|
|• Metro||148,749 (US: 282nd)|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (Mountain)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (Mountain)|
57701, 57702, 57703, 57704, 57709
|GNIS feature ID||1265333|
Rapid City (Lakota: Mni Lúzahaŋ Otȟúŋwahe; "Swift Water City") is the second most populous city in South Dakota and the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek, on which the city is established, it is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range; the population was 67,956 as of the 2010 Census.
Known as the "Gateway to the Black Hills" due to its location and the "City of Presidents" because of the life-size bronze president statues located downtown. Rapid City is split by a low mountain ridge that divides the western and eastern parts of the city. Ellsworth Air Force Base is located on the outskirts of the city. Camp Rapid, a part of the South Dakota Army National Guard, is located in the western part of the city. Rapid City is home to popular attractions like Art Alley, Dinosaur Park, the City of Presidents walking tour, Chapel in the Hills, Storybook Island, Main Street Square and more; the historic "Old West" town of Deadwood is nearby. In the neighboring Black Hills are the popular tourist attractions of Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, the museum at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, and to the east of the city is Badlands National Park.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Healthcare
- 5 Education
- 6 Sports
- 7 Art and culture
- 8 Sister cities
- 9 Industry and economy
- 10 Transportation
- 11 Infrastructure
- 12 Suburbs
- 13 Local media
- 14 Places of interest
- 15 Notable people
- 16 Notes
- 17 References
- 18 External links
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The public discovery of gold in 1874 by the Black Hills Expedition brought a mass influx of settlers into the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Rapid City was founded, and originally known as "Hay Camp", in 1876 by a group of disappointed miners, who promoted their new city as the "Gateway to the Black Hills", a nickname the city now shares with neighboring Box Elder. John Richard Brennan and Samuel Scott, with a small group of men, laid out the site of the present Rapid City in February 1876, which was named for the spring-fed Rapid Creek that flows through it. A square mile was measured off and the six blocks in the center were designated as a business section. Committees were appointed to bring in prospective merchants and their families to locate in the new settlement; the city soon began selling supplies to miners and pioneers. Its location on the edge of the Plains and Hills and its large river valley made it the natural hub of railroads arriving in the late 1880s from both the south and east. By 1900, Rapid City had survived a boom and bust and was establishing itself as an important regional trade center for the upper midwest.
Although the Black Hills became a popular tourist destination in the late 1890s, it was a combination of local efforts, the popularity of the automobile, and construction of improved highways that brought tourists to the Black Hills in large numbers after World War I. Gutzon Borglum, already a famous sculptor, began work on Mount Rushmore in 1927 and his son, Lincoln Borglum, continued the carving of the presidents' faces in rock following his father's death in 1941; the work was halted due to pressures leading to the US entry into World War II and the massive sculpture was declared complete in 1941. Although tourism sustained the city throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s, the gasoline rationing of World War II had a devastating effect on the tourist industry in the town, but this was more than made up for by the war-related growth.
In 1930, the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce sent a letter inviting Al Capone to live in the Black Hills. South Dakota's governor did not support the idea, and apparently neither did Capone, as he declined to relocate to the area.
The city benefited greatly from the opening of Rapid City Army Air Base, later Ellsworth Air Force Base, an Army Air Corps training base; as a result, the population of the area nearly doubled between 1940 and 1948, from almost 14,000 to nearly 27,000 people. Military families and civilian personnel soon took every available living space in town, and mobile home parks proliferated. Rapid City businesses profited from the military payroll. During the Cold War, missile installations proliferated in the area: a series of Nike Air Defense sites were constructed around Ellsworth in the 1950s. In the early 60s the construction of three Titan missile launch sites containing a total of nine Titan I missiles in the general vicinity of Rapid City took place. Beginning in November 1963, the land for a hundred miles east, northeast and northwest of the city was dotted with 150 Minuteman missile silos and 15 launch command centers, all of which were deactivated in the early 1990s.
In 1949, city officials envisioned the city as a retail and wholesale trade center for the region and designed a plan for growth that focused on a civic center, more downtown parking places, new schools, and paved streets. A construction boom continued into the 1950s. Growth slowed in the 1960s, but the worst natural disaster in South Dakota history, the Black Hills Flood of 1972, led to another building boom a decade later. On June 9, 1972, heavy rains caused massive flash flooding along the course of Rapid Creek through the city. 238 people lost their lives and more than $100 million in property was destroyed.
The devastation of the flood and the outpouring of private donations and millions of dollars in federal aid led to the completion of one big part of the 1949 plan: clearing the area along the Rapid Creek and making it a public park. New homes and businesses were constructed to replace those that had been destroyed. Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and a new Central High School were built in part of the area that had been cleared; the new Central High School opened in 1978, with the graduating class in that year straddling both the original Central (housed in what is now Rapid City High School and community theater) and the new Central. The rebuilding in part insulated Rapid City from the drop in automotive tourism caused by the Oil Embargo in 1974, but tourism was depressed for most of a decade. In 1978, Rushmore Mall was built on the north edge of the city, adding to the city's position as a retail shopping center.
In 1980 in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Federal government of the United States had illegally stolen the Black Hills from the Sioux people when the government unilaterally broke the treaty that guaranteed the Black Hills belonged to the Sioux. The court decision offered money, but the Sioux declined on principle that the theft of their land should not be validated, and still demand the return of the land; this land includes Rapid City, which is by far the largest modern settlement in the Black Hills. As of 2010, the dispute has not been settled.
In the 1980s, growth was fueled by an increase in tourism, increasingly tied to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, followed by another decline in the late 1990s. Fears for the closure of Ellsworth AFB as part of the massive base closure process in the 1990s and 2000s led to attempts to expand other sectors of the economy, but growth continued and the city expanded significantly during this period.
Today, Rapid City is South Dakota's primary city for tourism and recreation. With the approval of a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the Homestake Mine site in nearby Lead, Rapid City has a future of great advancements in technology, medicine, and scientific research.
1972 Rapid Creek flood
On June 9–10, 1972, extremely heavy rains over the eastern Black Hills of South Dakota produced record floods on Rapid Creek and other streams in the area. Nearly 15 inches (380 mm) of rain fell in about six hours near Nemo, and more than 10 inches (250 mm) of rain fell over an area of 60 square miles (160 km2). According to the Red Cross, the resulting peak floods (which occurred after dark) left 238 people dead and 3,057 people injured. In addition to the human tragedy, total destruction was estimated in excess of $160 million (about $964 million in 2018 dollars), which included 1,335 homes and 5,000 automobiles that were destroyed. Runoff from this storm produced record floods (highest peak flows recorded) along Battle, Spring, Rapid, and Box Elder Creeks. Smaller floods also occurred along Elk Creek and Bear Butte Creek. Canyon Lake Dam, on the west side of Rapid City, broke the night of the flood, unleashing a wall of water down the creek; the 1972 flooding has an estimated recurrence interval of 500 years, which means that a flood of this magnitude will occur on average once every 500 years. Every year there is a 0.2 percent chance (1 in 500) of experiencing a similar event. To prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future, the city's flood plain is no longer allowed to be built upon. Today the flood plain features golf courses, parks, sports arenas, and arboretums where neighborhoods and businesses once stood.
In 2007, the Rapid City Public Library created a 1972 Flood digital archive that collects survivors' stories, photos and news accounts of the flood; the Journey Museum has an interactive display on the 1972 flood, which is an ongoing project to give future generations the best idea of how the people were affected and the changes made to it because of the loss of 238 lives. It will, in the future, include the biographies of all of those who died so they will be remembered as more than names on a memorial.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 55.49 square miles (143.71 km2), of which 55.41 square miles (143.5 km2) is land and 0.08 square mile (0.2 km2) is water.
Rapid City is located on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, and is split in half by the Dakota Hogback. Rapid City's "Westside" is located in the Red Valley between the foothills of the Black Hills proper and the Dakota Hogback, so named for the red Spearfish formation soils and the way the valley completely circles the Black Hills. Rapid City has grown up into the foothills, with both ridges and valleys developed, especially in the last 20 years, and wildfire is a distinct threat to these residential areas, as shown by the Westberry Trails fire in 1988.
Skyline Drive follows the summits of the Dakota Hogback south from near Rapid Gap (where Rapid Creek cuts through the Hogback) to a large high plateau that forms the current south edge of Rapid City; the Central and Eastern portions of Rapid City lie in the wide valley of Rapid Creek outside the Hogback, which includes a number of mesas rising a hundred feet or more above the floodplain.
Rapid Creek flows through Rapid City, emerging from Dark Canyon above Canyon Lake and flowing in a large arc north of Downtown. Rapid Creek descends to the southeast as the valley widens; the floodplain of Rapid Creek is mostly a series of parks, arboretums, and bike trails, one legacy of the Black Hills Flood of 1972. To the north, a series of ridges separates Rapid Creek from Box Elder Creek, with large older and new residential areas and commercial areas along I-90. To the south, the terrain rises more steeply to the southern widening of the Dakota Hogback into a plateau dividing the Rapid Creek drainage from Spring Creek.
Rapid City features a steppe climate (Köppen BSk), and is part of USDA Hardiness zone 5a, its location makes its climate unlike both the higher elevations of the Black Hills and the Great Plains to the east. It is characterized by long arid summers and long dry winters, with short but distinct spring and autumn seasons. Precipitation averages 16.3 inches or 414.0 millimetres annually, but has historically ranged from 9.12 inches or 231.6 millimetres in 1974 to 27.70 inches or 703.6 millimetres in 1946.
Winters are cold and dry, with December being the coldest month in recent years, with a daily average temperature of 24.9 °F or −3.9 °C; however, chinook winds can warm temperatures above 50 °F or 10 °C, doing so on average about 21 times from December to February. Temperature inversions, however, occasionally produce warmer temperatures in the Black Hills. On average, highs do not climb above freezing on 42 days, while the low temperature reaches 0 °F or −17.8 °C on an average of seventeen nights. Snowfall is frequent but usually not heavy; March and April are typically the snowiest months, and the seasonal total averages 41 inches or 1.04 metres, although historically ranging from 16.9 inches or 0.43 metres during 1980–81 to 80.9 inches or 2.05 metres during 1985–86. Extensive snow cover does not remain for long, with only nine days seasonally with 5 inches or 0.13 metres or more on the ground. Measurable snow has occurred in every month except July.
Compared to locations in the east, the area warms rather gradually early in the year, with the last measurable snow typically occurring in late April and precipitation totals beginning to increase; May snow occurs several times per decade. Toward the middle of the year, storms typically develop over the Black Hills during the afternoon and move onto the plains in the evening. Only April through June have observed calendar-day precipitation amounts exceeding 3 inches or 76.2 millimetres, and June 15, 1963, with 3.78 inches or 96.0 millimetres, holds the single-day rainfall record; the record-wettest month is May 1996 with 8.18 inches or 207.8 millimetres. However, Rapid City still sees an average of twenty clear to partly cloudy days and 67 percent of its possible sunshine in June; this is the traditional "flood" season for Rapid and other creeks in the Eastern Hills. Temperatures warm rapidly as summer approaches.
Summer in Rapid City is relatively nice, relatively dry, and relatively sunny. July is the warmest month of the year, having a daily average temperature of 72.6 °F (22.6 °C). There is an average of 34 days with 90 °F (32.2 °C)+ highs and 5.1 with 100 °F (37.8 °C)+ highs. Due to the elevation and aridity, lows rarely remain at or above 70 °F (21.1 °C) and during July and August fall to or below 50 °F or 10 °C on an average 7.6 days. Rapid City records an average of nine thunderstorm days in August, but only 1.56 inches or 39.6 millimetres of rain in that month.
Fall is a precipitous transition season, with the average first freeze in Rapid City is October 4 and late August through September in the Black Hills; the Rapid City area's first snowfall is usually in October, although higher elevations sometimes receive significant snow in September. Occasional cold fronts moving through the area bring blustery northwest winds.
Sunshine is abundant in the region in all months except December, averaging 2850 hours, 64% of the possible total, per year.
Rapid City holds a record for an extreme temperature drop of 47 °F or 26.1 °C in five minutes on January 10, 1911, from 60 °F or 16 °C to 13 °F or −11 °C. Official extreme temperatures range from −31 °F or −35 °C on February 2, 1996 up to 111 °F or 44 °C on July 15, 2006; the record low daily maximum is −18 °F or −28 °C on February 2, 1989, while the record high daily minimum is 75 °F or 24 °C on July 8, 1985 and July 28, 1960.
|Climate data for Rapid City Regional Airport, South Dakota (1981−2010 normals,[a] extremes 1942−present)[b]|
|Record high °F (°C)||76
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||62.3
|Average high °F (°C)||37.1
|Average low °F (°C)||12.9
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||−8.4
|Record low °F (°C)||−27
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.30
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||4.4
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||5.4||5.7||7.6||9.5||11.7||12.3||9.5||7.7||7.0||7.2||5.3||5.4||94.3|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.4||5.8||5.3||4.4||0.4||0||0||0||0.4||1.5||4.1||5.8||33.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||63.5||65.1||63.8||58.6||60.8||61.9||56.2||52.6||53.5||54.2||62.2||64.8||59.8|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||163.5||174.0||233.9||246.9||274.3||310.5||335.5||323.8||261.9||226.0||156.6||149.9||2,856.8|
|Percent possible sunshine||57||59||63||61||60||67||72||75||70||66||54||54||64|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961−1990)|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 67,956 people, 28,586 households, and 16,957 families residing in the city; the population density was 1,226.4 inhabitants per square mile (473.5/km2). There were 30,254 housing units at an average density of 546.0 per square mile (210.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.4% White, 1.1% African American, 12.4% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.
There were 28,586 households of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.7% were non-families. 32.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.90.
The median age in the city was 35.6 years. 23.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.7% were from 25 to 44; 25% were from 45 to 64; and 14.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 59,607 people, 23,969 households, and 15,220 families residing in the city; the population density was 1,336.7 people per square mile (516.1/km2). There were 25,096 housing units at an average density of 562.8 per square mile (217.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.33% White, 0.97% African American, 10.14% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 2.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.77% of the population.
There were 23,969 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city, the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.6 males.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $35,978, and the median income for a family was $44,818. Males had a median income of $30,985 versus $21,913 for females; the per capita income for the city was $19,445. About 9.4% of families and 12.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.
Rapid City is a major healthcare center for a five-state region, centered around Regional Health Rapid City Hospital, which operates under not-for-profit parent company Regional Health. Rapid City has one (1) Emergency Room which is the states busiest, the community also has access to several Urgent Care's operated by Regional Health and for-profit groups.. Other independent, for-profit medical facilities have been established in the area, including Black Hills Surgical Hospital, Black Hills Orthopedics, Black Hills Pediatrics, Rapid City Medical Center, Black Hills Regional Eye Institute and other smaller groups. Rapid City is also home to The Indian Health Service’s Sioux San Hospital which provides care to the Native American community. Veterans Affairs hospitals are located nearby at Fort Meade, and Hot Springs; the VA also has a clinic in Rapid City. Emergency medical services (EMS) are provided by the Rapid City Fire Department. Emergency medical transportation by rotor and fixed wing aircraft is provided by Black Hills Life Flight, operated by Air Methods Corp. based in Denver, CO and MARC (Medical Air Rescue Company) owned by Dale Aviation based Rapid City, SD. The Rapid City area is also home to a number of non-profit public health organizations that engage in survey and clinic research, epidemiology, and area-based health promotion disease prevention; the Health Education and Promotion Council and Black Hills Center for American Indian Health are two notable non-profit organizations.
Rapid City institutions of higher education include the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Oglala Lakota College's He Sapa College Center, Black Hills State University - Rapid City University Center (includes classes and degrees through five other South Dakota post-secondary Institutions), National American University, Western Dakota Technical Institute, Black Hills Beauty College, John Witherspoon College, and several small sectarian preacher training schools. Black Hills State University is located in nearby Spearfish and offers several classes in Rapid City; the South Dakota state nurse training program is also based in Rapid City. There are two public high schools in the city, Central High School and Stevens High School.
In 2013, 26.6 percent of Rapid City residents 25 years or over had earned a bachelor's degree or higher. This is on par with the average educational attainment in the United States; the highest rates of educational attainment in South Dakota can be found in metropolitan areas of Rapid City and Sioux Falls.
The local public schools fall under the Rapid City Area Schools school district. There are three high schools within the district, they are Central High School, Stevens High School and the newly renovated Rapid City High School, which also houses the Performing Arts Center. The middle schools include East Middle School, North Middle School, South Middle School, Southwest Middle School, and West Middle School. There are 16 elementary schools within the district; these are Black Hawk, Canyon Lake, Corral Drive, General Beadle, Grandview, Horace Mann, Kibben Kuster, Knollwood Heights, Meadowbrook, Pinedale, Rapid Valley, Robbinsdale, South Canyon, South Park, Valley View, and Woodrow Wilson.
There are also various private schools in Rapid City; the city has four Christian high schools including Saint Thomas More, Rapid City Christian High School, Liberty Baptist Academy and Open Bible Christian School. Rapid City also has various private grade schools including St. Paul's Lutheran School of the WELS.
- The Black Hills Posse was a professional basketball club that competed in the International Basketball Association beginning in the 1995–96 season.
- The Black Hills Gold was a professional basketball club that competed in the International Basketball Association during the 1999–2000 season.
- The Rapid City Flying Aces were an indoor football team that competed between 2000 and 2006 in the Indoor Football League, United Indoor Football, and National Indoor Football League, changing names from season to season.
- The Rapid City Rush is a minor league hockey team in the ECHL.
- The Rapid City Thrillers were a professional basketball club that competed in the Continental Basketball Association beginning in the 1987–88 season through the 1996–97 season.
Art and culture
Because of the importance of tourism in the area, and its extensive market area, Rapid City has many cultural resources usually found only in much larger urban areas. Among these are:
- The Journey Museum
- Museum of Geology
- Dahl Arts Center
- Suzie Cappa Art Center
- The Rapid City Public Library
- Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
- Black Hills Playhouse
- Storybook Island Theater
- Art Alley Gallery
- The Performing Arts Center of Rapid City
- Black Hills Community Theatre
- Black Hills Symphony Orchestra
- Black Hills Chamber Orchestra
- Prairie Edge Art Gallery
- Chapel in the Hills
- Main Street Square
Rapid City also has a large amount of public sculpture on display in many parts of the city; the most visible is "The City of Presidents", a series of life-sized bronze statues representing each former President of the United States. The statues are located on street corners in the downtown area. Five South Dakota artists created the statues: Edward E. Hlavka, Lee Leuning, John Lopez, James Michael Maher, and James Van Nuys. The first 42 statues were erected via private donations over a ten-year period between 2000 and 2010; as of 2019, Barack Obama is the most recent president to have a statue erected; currently sitting presidents are ineligible.
Industry and economy
Rapid City's economy is diverse, but has only a moderate amount of industry. Heavy and medium industrial activities include a Portland cement plant (constructed and owned for 84 years by the State of South Dakota and sold in 2003 to GCC, a Mexican-based conglomerate), Black Hills Ammunition an ammunition and reloading supplies manufacturing company, several custom sawmills, a lime plant, a computer peripheral component manufacturing plant, and several farm and ranch equipment manufacturers. Of particular note, Rapid City is the center for the manufacture of Black Hills gold jewelry, a popular product with tourists and Westerners in general. Rapid City is also the location of the only manufacturer of stamping machines used for the labeling of plywood and chipboard products.
Although most gold mining has ceased in the Black Hills and was never done in or near Rapid City, mining of sand and gravel, as well as the raw materials for lime and Portland cement (including chemical-grade limestone, taconite iron ore, and gypsum) remains an important part of the economy.
The largest sector of the Rapid City economy is government services, including local, state, and federal. Major employers include Ellsworth Air Force Base, home of the 28th Bomb Wing flying the B-1B long-range bomber; the Army National Guard based at Camp Rapid and hosting annual exercises in the Black Hills drawing troops from five to ten states; and various federal agencies including the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and Indian Health Service.
The Rapid City Regional Hospital Healthcare System covers one of the largest expansions of territory in the United States; the health care sector employs over 8,000 persons in the Rapid City area.
Tourism is also a major portion of the Rapid City economy, due to the proximity of Mount Rushmore, Sturgis, home of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Deadwood, and other attractions in the Black Hills. Rapid City is the major source of services for the Motorcycle Rally, and the Rally's demand for motel rooms, camp sites, and other services for tourists during the first week of August means that Rapid City has the capacity to host large conventions and large numbers of tourists year-round. Various minor tourist attractions, including wildlife parks, specialty shops, caves, water parks, private museums, and other businesses are found in and near Rapid City.
Other economic sectors include financial service and investing companies such as Waddell and Reed, Citibank, WaMu, Merrill Lynch, and Northwestern Mutual. Rapid City is the headquarters for Assurant Insurance's pre-need division and Rapid City has a strong medical services sector, and institutions of higher education. Rapid City is also the major market town for much of five states, drawing commerce from more than half of South Dakota, and large portions of North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and the Nebraska Panhandle.
Rapid City is a major transportation hub for the Northern Plains. Rapid City Regional Airport provides flights to the airline hub cities of Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago; the airport also has extensive General Aviation operations, including wildfire fighting activities and medical flight support to Rapid City medical facilities and Indian Health Service operations in the Dakotas.
Historically, Rapid City was served by three railroads. Presently, the city is served by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E). In addition to Rapid City, the RCP&E serves the Northern Black Hills and run east to Minnesota and south through Nebraska to connect with major transcontinental railroads Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific; until the 1950s Chicago and Northwestern Railroad ran a daily passenger train from Chicago to Rapid City. South Dakota does not have Amtrak service, Wyoming being the only other state in the continental United States without service.
Rapid City's central location allows easy transport of products to both coasts, and trucking is a major business activity in the city. Improved connections with Denver and I-80 to the south, via the Heartland Expressway now under construction will primarily benefit local trucking.
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- Interstate 90 is the primary east-west route for Rapid City. Rapid City is served by a series of 7 exits. I-90 skims the northern side of Rapid City; the South Dakota DOT has been reconstructing most of these interchanges in the last five years.
- Interstate 190 is an Interstate spur linking downtown Rapid City to Interstate 90.
- US Highway 16 is the main route to the southwest and the Black Hills from Rapid City. It links Rapid City to Custer and then west to Newcastle, Wyoming, where it connects to US Highway 85 for travel to Cheyenne and Denver. Reconstructed as a four-lane parkway connecting Rapid City to Mount Rushmore in the mid-1960s, major segments have been rebuilt as three-lane or "super-two" highways in the past decade, to support increased tourist traffic.
- South Dakota Highway 44 is a state highway that links the interior of the Black Hills to the southwest of Rapid City, and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and nearby areas in the Great Plains to the southeast.
- South Dakota Highway 79 is a state highway that is multiplexed with I-90 northwest of Rapid City. SD Highway 79 extends to North Dakota. South of Rapid City to Nebraska, Highway 79 is being reconstructed as the Heartland Expressway, a high-speed four-lane highway that will eventually connect to Interstate 80 in Nebraska and the Colorado Front Range near Denver; the Heartland Expressway may eventually be extended along US Highway 85 north to Regina, Saskatchewan, to create an additional major north-south artery through the Great Plains that would pass through Rapid City.
Rapid City's location on the boundary of the Western and Eastern power grids, together with the hydroelectric plants of the Mainstem Dams on the Missouri River and the large coal fields and power plants of the Powder River Basin of Wyoming make it one of the points where the two national power grids connect with each other, allowing switching of electrical power from east to west and vice versa. Rapid City previously had its own coal-fired power plant before Federal regulations forced it and many other coal plants in the area such as power stations near Gillette, Wyoming, to shut down; the Ben French power station located within city boundaries shut down September 2012, more than 2 years ahead of its scheduled shut down. Rapid City now obtains much of its power from both the Missouri dams and importing it from elsewhere. Electrical rates used to be considered relatively low until the shut down of the coal plants, so have progressively climbed the last several years as a lack of local power sources means massive expenses to import it from greater distances.
Rapid City obtains most of its water supply from Rapid Creek and the alluvial aquifers associated with the creek, owning significant water rights in Pactola Reservoir located some 15 miles (24 km) west of the city, but does also obtain water from some springs in the vicinity, and has the ability to draw water from deep formations that receive water from recharge in areas of the Black Hills where the formations come to the surface; the heavy dependence on shallow alluvial aquifers is of some concern to planners, as most suburbs of Rapid City use septic systems for domestic sewage treatment. However, water supplies remain relatively good for future growth.
Rapid City has limited city-to-city bus service along I-90, but many charter bus services operate in the area, and connect Rapid City and Deadwood with cities in Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa. Rapid City does have a municipally-owned bus service with multiple bus stops and a headquarters in the city.
The estimated 2013 population of the Rapid City Metropolitan Statistical Area (Pennington County, Meade County and Custer County) was 141,131. Most cities and towns in the Black Hills and the surrounding plains have a significant percentage of their population who commute to and from Rapid City, and many residents of Rapid City work in outlying towns. Among the nearer suburbs in Pennington and Meade Counties:
|AM radio stations|
|Frequency||Call sign||Name||Format||Owner||City of License||Broadcast Market|
|580 AM||KZMX||580 Country||Country||Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting, Inc.||Hot Springs||Rapid City|
|810 AM||KBHB||Five State Ranch Radio||Farm||HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Sturgis||Rapid City|
|920 AM||KKLS||News. Talk. Radio.||News/Talk||HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|980 AM||KDSJ||Oldies||Goldrush Broadcasting, Inc.||Deadwood||Rapid City|
|1150 AM||KIMM||Kim Radio||News/Talk||Gunslinger Radio, Inc.||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|1340 AM||KTOQ||ESPN Rapid City||Sports||Haugo Broadcasting, Inc.||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|1380 AM||KOTA||News Radio KOTA||News/Talk||Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|FM radio stations|
|Frequency||Call sign||Name||Format||Owner||Target city/market||City of license|
|88.3 FM||KLMP||The Light||Christian||Bethesda Christian Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|88.7 FM||K204FB||KILI-FM||Community Radio
|Lakota Communications Inc.||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|89.3 FM||KBHE||South Dakota Public Broadcasting||NPR||SD Board of Directors for Educational Telecommunications||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|89.9 FM||KJRC||Real Presence Radio||Catholic Radio||Real Presence Radio||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|90.3 FM||KASD||Bott Radio Network||Christian||Bott Radio Network||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|91.3 FM||KTEQ-FM||K-Tech||Alternative||South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Educational Radio Council||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|91.7 FM||K218DX||CSN International||Christian
|CSN International||Rapid City||Box Elder|
|92.3 FM||KQRQ-FM||Q92.3||Classic Hits||Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|93.1 FM||KRCS||Hot 93.1||Top 40||HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Sturgis|
|93.9 FM||KKMK||93.9 The Mix||Hot AC||HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|94.7 FM||K234BR||Real Presence Radio||Catholic Radio
|Real Presence Radio||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|95.1 FM||KSQY||K-Sky||Album-Oriented Rock||Haugo Broadcasting, Inc.||Rapid City||Deadwood|
|95.9 FM||KZZI||The Eagle||Country||Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Belle Fourche|
|96.3 FM||K242BK||The Eagle||Country
|Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|97.1 FM||KFND-LP||Religious||Calvary Chapel of the Black Hills||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|97.5 FM||K248BT||Hot 93.1||Top 40
|HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|97.9 FM||KTPT||The Breeze||Christian Contemporary||Bethesda Christian Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|98.7 FM||KOUT||Kat Country 98.7||Country||HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|99.5 FM||KRKI-FM1||99-5/107-9 True Country||Classic Country
|Bad Lands Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|100.3 FM||KFXS||100.3 The Fox||Classic Rock||HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|100.7 FM||K264CP||News Radio KOTA||News/Talk
|Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|101.1 FM||KDDX||X-Rock||Active Rock||Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Spearfish|
|101.9 FM||KFMH-FM1||Kool 101.9||Oldies
|Bad Lands Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|102.7 FM||KXMZ||Hits 102.7||Hot AC||Haugo Broadcasting, Inc.||Rapid City||Box Elder|
|103.5 FM||K278AN||X-Rock||Active Rock
|Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|104.1 FM||KIQK||Kick 104||Country||Haugo Broadcasting, Inc.||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|104.7 FM||K284BA||News. Talk. Radio.||News/Talk
|HomeSlice Media Group, LLC||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|105.7 FM||K289AI||ESPN Rapid City||Sports||Haugo Broadcasting, Inc.||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|106.3 FM||KZLK||Star 106.3||Hot AC||Riverfront Broadcasting||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|106.7 FM||K294BT||Fox Sports Rapid City||Sports
|Black Hills Broadcasting, L.L.C.||Rapid City||Rapid City|
|107.1 FM||KSLT||Power 107.1||Christian Contemporary||Bethesda Christian Broadcasting||Rapid City||Spearfish|
|107.9 FM||KXZT||99-5/107-9 True Country||Country||Bad Lands Broadcasting||Rapid City||Newell|
Places of interest
People who have lived, resided, or were born in Rapid City, South Dakota.
NFL Kicker and 4x Super Bowl Champion
- Catherine Bach – Actress, best known as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard
- Shane Van Boening – Professional billiards player
- Dave Collins – Professional baseball player
- Jessi Combs – Professional racer and television personality
- Sean Doolittle – Professional baseball player
- Mark Ellis – Professional baseball player
- Meryle Fitzgerald – All-American Girls Professional Baseball League ballplayer
- Jack van der Geest – Holocaust survivor, author of Was God on Vacation?
- Emily Graslie – Correspondent for Chicago Field Museum and YouTube program host
- Dick Green – Professional baseball player
- Bill Groethe – Photographer who took picture of last eight survivors of 1876's Battle of the Little Bighorn
- David Hallberg – Principal dancer with American Ballet Theater and the Bolshoi Ballet
- Becky Hammon – San Antonio Spurs coach
- John Sherrill Houser – Painter and sculptor
- Carrie Ingalls – Younger sister of author Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Tomi Lahren - Political commentator
- Lawrence Lessig – Harvard Law School professor, co-founder of the Creative Commons
- Randy Lewis - 1980 and 1984 Olympian wrestler and 1984 Olympic freestyle champion at 136.5 lbs
- Hunter Nope- Professional Wrestler "Hunter Kent" in Japan & Lucha Libre (Puerto Rico & Mexico)
- Eric Piatkowski – NBA player and former Nebraska Cornhusker
- Neal Tapio – Trump Presidential Campaign Director
- Kelvin Torve– Major League Baseball player for the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets
- Adam Vinatieri – NFL kicker for the Indianapolis Colts
- Chauncey Yellow Robe ("Kills in the Woods") (Canowicakte) (1867–1930) – educator, lecturer and activist
- Rosebud Yellow Robe – folklorist, educator and author
- Anthony Allen Shore - Serial Killer executed in Texas
- Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
- Official temperature and precipitation records for Rapid City kept at the old municipal airport from August 1942 to October 11, 1950, and at Rapid City Regional since October 12, 1950. Snowfall and snow depth records date to September 1, 1942 and the move to Rapid City Regional, respectively.
- Hasselstrom, p. 331.
- "Fred E. Stearns". Rapid City Library. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- Ullrich, Jan F. (2014). New Lakota Dictionary (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Lakota Language Consortium. ISBN 978-0-9761082-9-0. Archived from the original on 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- Jackson, William (2008). Almanac of North Dakota mysteries & oddities, 2009-2010. Valley Star Books. p. 44. ISBN 9780967734989. OCLC 259419005.
- "Retiring a Minuteman ICBM (LGM-30F)". U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project. The Brookings Institution. Archived from the original on May 10, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
- Giago, Tim (2007-06-03). "The Black Hills: A Case of Dishonest Dealings". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
- "The 1972 Black Hills-Rapid City Flood Revisited". United States Geological Survey. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
- (Burr and Korkow, 1996)
- 1972 Flood digital archive Archived 2012-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
- U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000, Summary File 1. "GCT-PH1. Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2000 - County -- Subdivision and Place". American FactFinder. <http://factfinder2.census.gov>. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map". United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Missing or empty
- "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
- "Station Name: SD RAPID CITY RGNL AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
- "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Rapid City, South Dakota, United States of America". Retrieved September 5, 2009.
- "WMO Climate Normals for RAPID CITY/REGIONAL ARPT SD 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Lyons, Walter A (1997). The Handy Weather Answer Book (2nd ed.). Detroit: Visible Ink press. ISBN 0-7876-1034-8.
- "Threaded Extremes". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 30, 2019.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
- U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000. "QT-P1. Age Groups and Sex, Rapid City". American FactFinder. <http://factfinder.census.gov>. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
- U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000. "Census Demographic Profiles, Rapid City" (PDF). CenStats Databases. Retrieved 2009-01-31.[dead link]
- "Educational Attainment". South Dakota Dashboard. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "Rapid City Area Schools". Rapid City Area Schools. Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
- "St. Paul's Lutheran School & Preschool".
- "Museum of Geology Homepage". South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Dahl Arts Center Homepage". Rapid City Arts Council. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Suzie Cappa Art Center Homepage". Suzie Cappa Art Center - Studio & Gallery. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Rapid City Public Library Homepage". rcgov.org. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Black Hills Playhouse Homepage". blackhillsplayhouse.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Art Alley Homepage". artalley.awardspace.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Performing Arts Center of Rapid City Homepage". performingartsrc.org. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Black Hills Community Theater Homepage". bhct.org. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Prairie Edge Trading Co & Galleries Homepage". prairieedge.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- staff, Aaron Orlowski Journal. "Main Street Square marks anniversary". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- visitrapidcity.com, Rapid City South Dakota Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rapid City, 2010. Retrieved on November 15, 2010.
- Created by SD Constitutional Amendment, 1919.
- "Rapid City: Economy". City-Data.com. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- "Economic Output (GDP)". South Dakota Dashboard. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "Population trends". South Dakota Dashboard. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "Impact Magazine Homepage". Impact Rapid City. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Black Hills Visitor Homepage". Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- "Jet-Car Speed Racer Jessi Combs Dies Trying to Break Record". US News. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
- Hasselstrom, Linda M. (1994). Roadside History of South Dakota. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87842-262-5.