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Fort Pierre looks to expand tourism efforts, reach

The City of Fort Pierre is looking for new and creative ways to attract tourists, and possibly long term residents, to the area.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 7:15 PM CST
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. - The city of Fort Pierre was founded in 1867, it’s motto is “The Gateway to the West.”

Over the years, city leaders and business officials have worked to capitalize on the city’s reputation as one of the oldest cowboy towns in the state, by attempting to attract more tourists to the area.

“For people who live in South Dakota, our location is a big deal,” said Fort Pierre Mayor Gloria Hanson. “We are here by two beautiful rivers, and we are in the center of the state. No matter where you live in South Dakota, you can here in three, no more than three and a half hours.”

It is not just the location of South Dakota’s oldest city that Hanson and others argue should be the main attraction. They also point to the community’s history, which they believe is also second to none in the Rushmore State.

“It is a place where we have a rich history, people want to travel here just for the history even,” said Maxwell Strategies CEO Chris Maxwell. “They want to travel to see the beautiful Missouri River, they want to see the State Capitol. All of that puts us as residents of Fort Pierre in a position where we should celebrate ourselves, and have some more people come join us.”

There are several projects in the works that officials hope will continue to help Fort Pierre trend in the right direction. Some of them small, like a new mural being painted in the heart of downtown.

Others are big, like bringing the state’s Discovery Center west river, and capitalizing on the region’s deep connection with the buffalo.

“We’ve been leaning into developing more around the river, and to have more people come out and enjoy this amazing place right next to us,” explained Maxwell. “We also want to make it easier for people to find our history, it is amazing but it can be a challenge to find it. How do we improve that? Then the buffalo, you could argue that this city is the buffalo capitol of the world.”

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