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Near Forestburg in Sanborn County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Ruskin Park

½ Mile South

 
 
Ruskin Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, February 20, 2016
1. Ruskin Park Marker
Inscription.   Ruskin Park was synonymous with excitement, entertainment and romance from its inception.

The area's first pioneers settled along the James River near here in 1873. The Santee and Rodee families homesteaded south of here near a large grove (Rodee's Grove), where picnics, political rallies and community gatherings were held.

In 1902 Hiram A. Rodee Jr. cleared part of the grove and built a two story hotel, a lunchroom, stables and other buildings; erected a large canvas auditorium; and named the park after poet and naturalist John Ruskin. Special trains brought thousands of people to this site, the park entrance depot. People built or rented cottages and tents for summer camping. Chautauquas, plays, programs, meetings and picnics soon made Ruskin Park the cultural and entertainment center of Sanborn County.

In 1910 Robert E. Dowdell and Ben H. Millard purchased the park and made further improvements, adding a theater, forty cabins and one of the fastest on mile race tracks around, still visible on satellite images. Over the years, many local and nationally famous bands played to hundreds in the glass dance pavilion.

Ruskin Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, February 20, 2016
2. Ruskin Park Marker
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Later park proprietors were Marion C. Dowdell, 1930-1949; Don Shaw, 1949-1954; and Walter and Dagmar Siegenthaler, 1954-1968.
 
Erected by the State of South Dakota. (Marker Number 218.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the South Dakota State Historical Society Markers series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1873.
 
Location. 44° 0.702′ N, 98° 5.538′ W. Marker is near Forestburg, South Dakota, in Sanborn County. Marker is on South Dakota Route 34, one mile east of 405th Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Artesian SD 57314, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Forestburg Roadside Park (approx. 1.8 miles away); Col. W. H. Nobles (approx. 8.2 miles away); Sanborn County Veterans Memorial (approx. 9.7 miles away); Menno Area, South Dakota Veterans Memorial (approx. 9.7 miles away).
 
John Ruskin image. Click for full size.
Internet Archive
3. John Ruskin
National Portrait Gallery, (Great Britain) 2nd Series; London Cassell, Petter & Galpin.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 23, 2016, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 705 times since then and 11 times this year. Last updated on August 20, 2021, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 23, 2016, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota.   3. submitted on November 20, 2018, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 7, 2023