East River (South Dakota)

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This article is about the region in South Dakota. For other uses, see East River (disambiguation).
The Missouri River divides South Dakota into the regions of West River (yellow) and East River (blue).

The East River portion of South Dakota refers to the section of the state lying east of the Missouri River. Geographical distinctions between the eastern and western sections of the state were reinforced by distinct patterns of European settlement and Native American resettlement during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The eastern half of South Dakota was heavily glaciated and is largely covered by glacial till and loamy soil, which has lent itself to agricultural uses. The Missouri River roughly follows the 100th meridian in the state, and areas to the west of the meridian receive less rainfall. The East River region was generally capable of supporting homesteaders on the standard 160-acre plots of the era during the wetter-than average years between 1879 and 1885; prolonged droughts between 1886 and 1897, however, severely affected the region's farmers.[1]

During the second half of the 19th century, about 350,000 emigrants from western and northern Europe settled to the east of the Missouri. The later European immigrants, however, predominantly from southern and eastern Europe, were concentrated in the West River region.

About 70% of South Dakota's population in the 1990s was located in the East River region, including the state's largest city, Sioux Falls.[2]


  1. ^ "Drought and Agriculture in Eastern South Dakota During the Eighteen Nineties". Agricultural History Society, cited through JSTOR. JSTOR 3739326. 
  2. ^ "A South Dakota Statistical Collection" (PDF). South Dakota Legislature. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 


Coordinates: 45°N 98°W / 45°N 98°W / 45; -98