“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Brookings in Brookings County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Brookings/Hillcrest Park

Brookings Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Roger Dean Meyer, June 28, 2007
1. Brookings Marker
Inscription.  Brookings: The county seat of Brookings County was platted October 3-4, 1879, when the Northwestern Railroad reached here. Some of the early store buildings were moved overland from Fountain and Medary, which soon became ghost towns. In November 1879, after a stiff election contest with Aurora and Volga, Brookings became the county seat, replacing Medary, the seat since May 9, 1873. Residents of Brookings voted on May 2, 1881 to incorporate the village. A city charter was approved on May 9, 1883. The winters of 1880-1881 and 1887-1888 saw storms, blizzards, and much snow: rail communications stopped for many weeks. The territorial legislature on February 21, 1881 established a college here and residents donated 80 acres of land for the purpose. Old Central was erected in 1884 and was used until 1962, when it and Old North were razed. Classes began with 35 students in September 1884. The first degree was granted in 1886. The growth of the town has been steady. The 1880 census showed 4965 in the county: 1890 showed 10,132 in the county, of whom 1518 lived in Brookings. By 1910 there were 14,178 in the county and 2971 in Brookings.
Hillcrest Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Roger Dean Meyer, June 28, 2007
2. Hillcrest Park Marker
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The 1960 census showed 20,046 for the county, of whom 10,558 lived in Brookings. For several decades the county held sixth place in the state’s population. The town, township and county were all named for Judge Wilmot Wood Brookings (1830-1905), a pioneer squatter governor and promoter of Dakota Territory. In early decades Brookings was known as “the city of trees” because of the residents’ great interest in planting trees and beautifying the city.

Hillcrest Park: This is the original tree claim of Marthin Christianson (1847-1928) a native of Gjovik, Norway, who emigrated in 1850 with a large Colony, only 12 of whom survived the cholera plague. Trees were important to Christianson who came to Medary Township, D. T., from Coon Valley, Wisconsin, in 1878. As a ‘spotter’, one who selected which trees were to be cut, at the age of 30 he and his companions became lost in the Wisconsin woods one night. Though the youngest logger in the group, he reasoned that moss grew only on the north side of trees and that a northerly direction would eventually lead them to the clearing. Marthin led the group home. Trees were not always kind to him, for he was injured by one and later spent much of his savings to regain his health. Homesteading the quarter section north of here, Christianson later planted ash, cottonwood, and maple trees and claimed the
Brookings/Hillcrest Park Marker From The Street With Park In Background image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Roger Dean Meyer, June 28, 2007
3. Brookings/Hillcrest Park Marker From The Street With Park In Background
site of the present Hillcrest Park. The Timber culture Act provided that a homesteader should plant and grow 10 acres of trees on any 160 acres of land, or 5 acres on any 80 acres, and at the end of 8 years claim the whole 160 or 80 acres of land. Christianson was one of the first settlers in what was to become the city limits of Brookings. Besides Hillcrest Park, Brookings has Pioneer Park on its west side and Sexauer Park on its northwest border. Conservation Park is located on highway 77 on the county’s southern boundary, and Oakwood State Park is about 10 miles northwest of Volga. Lake Hendricks State Park is on the south shore of the lake in the northeast corner of Brookings County.
Erected 1963 by The Brookings County Historical Society/ Descendents of the Martinson-Christianson Families. (Marker Number 358.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the South Dakota State Historical Society Markers series list. A significant historical date for this entry is February 21, 1881.
Location. 44° 18.677′ N, 96° 46.633′ W. Marker is in Brookings, South Dakota, in Brookings County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of 6th Street (U.S. 14) and 17th Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Located on edge
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of parking lot for Hillcrest Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Brookings SD 57006, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Coughlin Campanile (approx. 0.6 miles away); Paul Zantow Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Heart of Brookings (approx. 0.9 miles away); Brookings County South Dakota Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.9 miles away); Downtown (approx. 1.1 miles away); Pioneer Park (approx. 1.3 miles away); Medary Townsite (approx. 7 miles away); First Convention in Brookings County (approx. 7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brookings.
Also see . . .  City of Brookings. (Submitted on March 29, 2013, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on March 29, 2013, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 756 times since then and 20 times this year. Last updated on August 21, 2021, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 29, 2013, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 25, 2023