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Butte County, South Dakota facts for kids

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Butte County
Butte County Courthouse
Butte County Courthouse
Map of South Dakota highlighting Butte County
Location within the U.S. state of South Dakota
Map of the United States highlighting South Dakota
South Dakota's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  South Dakota
Founded March 2, 1883
May 6, 1883
Named for Hills in the county
Seat Belle Fourche
Largest city Belle Fourche
 • Total 2,266 sq mi (5,870 km2)
 • Land 2,250 sq mi (5,800 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (40 km2)  0.7%
 • Total 10,243
 • Estimate 
10,456 Increase
 • Density 4.5203/sq mi (1.7453/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district At-large

Butte County is a county in the U.S. state of South Dakota. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 10,243. Its county seat is Belle Fourche. 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.



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.

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.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,266 square miles (5,870 km2), of which 2,250 square miles (5,800 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (0.7%) is water.

Major highways

  • US 85.svg U.S. Highway 85
  • US 212.svg U.S. Highway 212
  • SD 34.svg South Dakota Highway 34
  • SD 79.svg South Dakota Highway 79
  • SD 168.svg South Dakota Highway 168

Adjacent counties


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%
2020 10,243 1.3%
2021 (est.) 10,456 3.4%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 10,110 people, 4,160 households, and 2,786 families in the county. The population density was 4.5 inhabitants per square mile (1.7/km2). There were 4,621 housing units at an average density of 2.1 per square mile (0.81/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.2% white, 1.9% American Indian, 0.2% black or African American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 3.0% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 40.9% were German, 16.6% were Irish, 15.7% were Norwegian, 10.4% were English, and 5.2% were American.

Of the 4,160 households, 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.3% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.0% were non-families, and 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.92. The median age was 41.1 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,041 and the median income for a family was $52,829. Males had a median income of $37,429 versus $25,273 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,418. About 11.5% of families and 15.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.0% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities


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

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Butte (Dakota del Sur) para niños

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