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Transportation in South Dakota facts for kids

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This article describes transportation in the U.S. state of South Dakota.


See also: List of South Dakota railroads

Railroads have played an important role in South Dakota transportation since the late-19th century. Historically, the Milwaukee Road and the Chicago & North Western were the state's largest railroads, and the Milwaukee's east-west transcontinental line traversed the northern tier of the state. Some 4,420 miles (7,110 km) of railroad track were built in South Dakota during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but only 1,839 miles (2,960 km) are active. BNSF Railway is currently the largest railroad in South Dakota, primarily operating former Milwaukee Road trackage; the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Railroad is the state's other major carrier, mostly operating former Chicago & North Western trackage. Rail transportation in the state is confined only to freight, however, as South Dakota is one of the few states without any Amtrak service.

Most of the traffic was freight, but the main lines also offered passenger service. After the European immigrants settled down, there never were many people moving about inside the state. Profits were slim. Automobiles and buses were much more popular, but there was an upsurge in train use during World War II when gasoline was scarce. All passenger service was ended in the state by 1970.


South Dakota's largest commercial airports in terms of passenger traffic are the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and Rapid City Regional Airport. Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Allegiant Airlines, as well as commuter airlines using the brand affiliation with major airlines serve the two largest airports. Several other cities in the state also have commercial air service, some of which is subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.

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