Near Forestburg in Sanborn County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
1/2 Mile South
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.
Later park proprietors were Marion C. Dowdell, 1930-1949; Don Shaw, 1949-1954; and Walter and Dagmar Siegenthaler, 1954-1968.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Artesian SD 57314, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Forestburg Roadside Park (approx. 1.8 miles away).
Categories. • Entertainment • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 23, 2016, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 346 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 23, 2016, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.