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Final three Trail of Governors statues unveiled

The Trail of Governors in Pierre officially has all of the former governors represented, after the final three who were missing from the trail were unveiled for the first time at a ceremony Friday.
At a ceremony in the State Capitol rotunda, the last three statues missing from Pierre's "Trail...
At a ceremony in the State Capitol rotunda, the last three statues missing from Pierre's "Trail of Governors" were unveiled, meaning that all 31 former governors are now represented.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 8:27 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - All 31 former governors of South Dakota now line the streets of South Dakota’s capital city.

Members of the public, former governors and political figures, as well as the family members of former governors gathered in the State Capitol rotunda, to see the final three former governor’s statues added to the trail.

Some came from much farther than South Dakota.

“All said, I drove about 1500 miles to get here,” said John Mullally. Mullally is the great grandson of William J. Bulow, one of the governors whos statue was unveiled. “I made it all the way from the Washington D.C area.”

Mullally and others got to see Bulow, Andrew Lee, and Frank Byrne’s statues revealed for the first time. With the exception of the current governor, that rounds out all of the remaining former ones.

Each statue is uniquely crafted to showcase certain highlights of these former governors’ lives.

James Van Nuys has created five of the statues on the trail.

“We put a huge amount of thought into it, these projects are very time consuming,” Van Nuys said. “Coming up with the concept is difficult, trying to come up with the information and symbols that will tell you something about that particular former governor.”

South Dakota remains the only state in the union to pay tribute to its former chief executives in this unique way, an honor that is not lost on family members.

“It is really cool to see family members being honored like this,” said Sarah Gunderson, who is related to Andrew Lee. Gunderson traveled from Texas to attend the ceremony. “Normally in the past the only time we would come to South Dakota was to bury people or marry them, we always come back to our roots.”

“This makes me feel that he (Bulow) was the governor of an extremely special state,” said Mullally. “A state that cares about its people, a state that cares about where it is going, what it stands for. It makes me feel warm inside.”

The next time a South Dakota governor will be added to the trail, is when current Governor Kristi Noem, becomes former Governor Kristi Noem.

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