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Harding County, South Dakota facts for kids

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Harding County
Golden Valley Norwegian Lutheran Church in Ralph, South Dakota.
Map of South Dakota highlighting Harding 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 1881 (created)
1898 (dissolved)
1908 (re-created w revised shape)
1909 (organized)
Named for J. A. Harding
Seat Buffalo
Largest town Buffalo
 • Total 2,678 sq mi (6,940 km2)
 • Land 2,671 sq mi (6,920 km2)
 • Water 6.5 sq mi (17 km2)  0.2%
 • Total 1,311
 • Estimate 
1,327 Increase
 • Density 0.48954/sq mi (0.18901/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district At-large

Harding County is a county in the U.S. state of South Dakota. As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,311, making it the third-least populous county in South Dakota. Its county seat is Buffalo.

Harding County was established as a county in the Dakota Territory on 5 March 1881, but was not organized at that time. Its name recognized J. A. Harding, who had been Speaker of the House of Dakota Territory. Its boundaries were altered in 1883, in 1889, and in 1894. On 8 November 1898, Harding County was dissolved and its territory assigned to Butte County. However, on 3 November 1908, it was again created (with altered boundaries) from Butte County's area, and on 17 February 1909 its governing organization was completed.

Custer National Forest has its South Dakota portion in Harding County, and South Dakota State University operates the Antelope Range and Livestock Research Station about 14 miles (23 km) east of Buffalo.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,678 square miles (6,940 km2), of which 2,671 square miles (6,920 km2) is land and 6.5 square miles (17 km2) (0.2%) is water. It is the fourth-largest county in South Dakota by area.

Major highways

  • US 85.svg U.S. Highway 85
  • SD 20.svg South Dakota Highway 20
  • SD 79.svg South Dakota Highway 79

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Custer National Forest (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 4,228
1920 3,953 −6.5%
1930 3,589 −9.2%
1940 3,010 −16.1%
1950 2,289 −24.0%
1960 2,371 3.6%
1970 1,855 −21.8%
1980 1,700 −8.4%
1990 1,669 −1.8%
2000 1,353 −18.9%
2010 1,255 −7.2%
2020 1,311 4.5%
2021 (est.) 1,327 5.7%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,255 people, 539 households, and 348 families in the county. The population density was 0.5 inhabitants per square mile (0.19/km2). There were 731 housing units at an average density of 0.27 per square mile (0.10/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.9% white, 1.5% American Indian, 0.1% black or African American, 0.1% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 41.4% were Norwegian, 31.8% were German, 18.4% were Irish, 13.2% were English, and 2.6% were American.

Of the 539 households, 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 4.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.4% were non-families, and 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.87. The median age was 43.3 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,792 and the median income for a family was $46,111. Males had a median income of $38,929 versus $20,924 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,004. About 13.7% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.5% of those under age 18 and 16.9% of those age 65 or over.



Unincorporated communities

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