Butte County, South Dakota

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Butte County, South Dakota
Butte County Courthouse
Map of South Dakota highlighting Butte County
Location in the state of South Dakota
Map of the United States highlighting South Dakota
South Dakota's location in the U.S.
Founded 1883
Seat Belle Fourche
Largest city Belle Fourche
 • Total 2,266 sq mi (5,870 km2)
 • Land 2,249 sq mi (5,824 km2)
 • Water 18 sq mi (46 km2), 0.79%
 • (2010) 10,110
 • Density 4/sq mi (2/km²)
Congressional district At-large
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7/-6
Website butte.sdcounties.org

Butte County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Dakota. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,110.[1] Its county seat is Belle Fourche.[2] The county was established in the Dakota Territory on March 2, 1883, and given the descriptive name based on the French word for a hill.[3]



In 1975, Plesiosaurus fossils dating back to the Cretaceous Period were discovered in Butte County. These fossils were approximately 110 million years old. In the 1980s, a 90-million-year-old fossil of a clawless lobster was discovered. A tyrannosaurus rex skeleton was found in 1981.[4]

The early human history of the Belle Fourche River Valley, and by extension, Butte County, has been traced back to about 3000 BC. The first people of the area were Native Americans who resided on the northwestern plains of North America. The earliest known evidence of human activity in the area dates back to the Middle Plains Archaic Period of the Plains Indians, which lasted from about 3000 to 1500 BC. Traces of tipi rings dating from this time period have been found. In 1979 and 1980, archeologists excavated a fortified and previously inhabited site located west of Belle Fourche that dated back to AD 1000. This site was called the Smiley-Evans Site and had been recorded in 1959. Until 1984, only 47 archaeological sites had been recorded, but after the excavation of the Smiley-Evans Site, several investigations were undertaken. As of 1989, 199 archaeological sites have been discovered in the county.[4]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,266.4 square miles (5,869.9 km2), of which 2,249.9 square miles (5,827.2 km2) is land and 16.5 square miles (42.7 km2) (0.79%) is water.[5]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,037
1900 2,907 180.3%
1910 4,993 71.8%
1920 6,819 36.6%
1930 8,589 26.0%
1940 8,004 −6.8%
1950 8,161 2.0%
1960 8,592 5.3%
1970 7,825 −8.9%
1980 8,372 7.0%
1990 7,914 −5.5%
2000 9,094 14.9%
2010 10,110 11.2%
Est. 2013 10,330 2.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2013 Estimate[1]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 9,094 people, 3,516 households, and 2,468 families residing in the county. The population density was 4 people per square mile (2/km²). There were 4,059 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.52% White, 0.10% Black or African American, 1.65% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 1.09% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. 2.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 37.3% were of German, 10.0% Norwegian, 8.2% United States or American, 7.8% Irish and 7.7% English ancestry.

There were 3,516 households out of which 35.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.40% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county, the population was spread out with 28.30% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 26.00% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 15.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,040, and the median income for a family was $34,173. Males had a median income of $26,769 versus $15,758 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,997. About 9.40% of families and 12.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.40% of those under age 18 and 11.80% of those age 65 or over.


Cities and towns[edit]


The county is divided into two townships: Union and Vale; and two areas of unorganized territory: East Butte and West Butte.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, The American Counties (4th Ed.), (The Scarecrow Press, 1983), pp68, 479
  4. ^ a b Engebretson, Pat; Heck, Kay; Herrett, Helen (1989). A History of Butte County, South Dakota. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media. ISBN 0-88107-139-0. 
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

Coordinates: 44°55′N 103°29′W / 44.91°N 103.49°W / 44.91; -103.49