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Miner County, South Dakota facts for kids

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Miner County
Map of South Dakota highlighting Miner 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 1873 (created)
1880 (organized)
Named for Nelson Miner and Ephriam Miner
Seat Howard
Largest city Howard
 • Total 572 sq mi (1,480 km2)
 • Land 570 sq mi (1,500 km2)
 • Water 1.6 sq mi (4 km2)  0.3%
 • Total 2,298
 • Estimate 
2,314 Increase
 • Density 4.017/sq mi (1.5512/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district At-large

Miner County is a county in the U.S. state of South Dakota. As of the 2020 census, the population was 2,298. Its county seat is Howard. The county was created in 1873 and organized in 1880.


The area is situated on the site of Dakota Sioux trails that connected two sites of cultural significance to the Dakota people, the pipestone quarries in southwestern Minnesota and the Sioux Crossing of the Three Rivers, near present-day Fort Thompson. South Dakota Highway 34 now roughly follows this route.

The Fort Ridgely and South Pass Wagon Road, also known as Nobles Trail, was the first road in Dakota Territory and passed through the area. It was built in 1857, connecting Fort Ridgley, Minnesota with South Pass in Wyoming Territory, along the Oregon Trail. The Minnesota and Powder River Road of 1865 also passed through the county.

The boundaries of present-day Miner County experienced several changes during territorial times. The county was originally established in 1873 by the South Dakota Territorial Legislature when Hanson County was divided into several parts. It was named after Ephriam Miner, a territorial legislator, and Nelson Miner, a territorial legislator and captain in the 1st Dakota Cavalry. At the time, Miner County spanned the southern half of present-day Miner and Sanborn counties; Bramble County (now extinct) spanned the northern portion of these counties. In 1879 the legislature combined Miner, Bramble, and portions of Wetmore counties and eliminated the latter two. The new Miner County was organized the following year with Forestburg named the capitol. In 1883 the county was divided, with the western portion being renamed Sanborn County and the eastern portion retaining the name Miner County. Howard was named the county seat of Miner County.

In 1881 the Milwaukee Road railroad opened tracks in Miner County that followed Fort Ridgely Road from east to west, connecting Madison to Woonsocket. The Chicago and North Western railroad opened tracks from Hawarden, Iowa, to Iroquois, crossing northwest across the county in 1882. Both of these railroads have since abandoned their tracks in the county.

The first homesteader in Miner County was Matthew A. Moore, in 1878. Significant homesteading started in 1879 and concluded in 1884, when all available government land had been claimed. Settlers were primarily Norwegian, German, Danish, Welsh, Irish and Swedish.

On August 28, 1884, the second known photograph of a tornado was taken in Miner County.

The current Miner County Courthouse was built in 1938 by the Great Depression-era Public Works Administration.

On June 13, 1943, two B-17 bombers from the 393rd Bomb Group of the Sioux City Army Air Base collided while on a training exercise over Miner County. One of the planes crashed immediately, and the other made a controlled landing in a creek bed several miles away. Eleven airmen were killed.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 572 square miles (1,480 km2), of which 570 square miles (1,500 km2) is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) (0.3%) is water.

Major highways

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 363
1890 5,165 1,322.9%
1900 5,864 13.5%
1910 7,661 30.6%
1920 8,560 11.7%
1930 8,376 −2.1%
1940 6,836 −18.4%
1950 6,268 −8.3%
1960 5,398 −13.9%
1970 4,454 −17.5%
1980 3,739 −16.1%
1990 3,272 −12.5%
2000 2,884 −11.9%
2010 2,389 −17.2%
2020 2,298 −3.8%
2021 (est.) 2,314 −3.1%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,389 people, 1,032 households, and 606 families in the county. The population density was 4.2 inhabitants per square mile (1.6/km2). There were 1,308 housing units at an average density of 2.3 per square mile (0.89/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.8% white, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 0.1% black or African American, 0.7% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.3% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 54.2% were German, 20.7% were Norwegian, 12.4% were Irish, 5.7% were English, 5.7% were Swedish, and 4.2% were American.

Of the 1,032 households, 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 41.3% were non-families, and 37.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.97. The median age was 46.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,958 and the median income for a family was $54,650. Males had a median income of $33,984 versus $25,221 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,450. About 2.7% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.2% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated places


The county is divided into sixteen townships:

  • Adams
  • Beaver
  • Belleview
  • Canova
  • Carthage
  • Clearwater
  • Clinton
  • Grafton
  • Green Valley
  • Henden
  • Howard
  • Miner
  • Redstone
  • Rock Creek
  • Roswell
  • Vermillion
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