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Arrival at Territorial Penitentiary


For almost sixty thousand dollars, Dakota Territory constructed a penitentiary in Sioux Falls during 1881 and 1882. Territorial Governor Nehemiah Ordway signed the legislation to fund the prison, which was built on eighty-five acres of land. The facility was meant to house between 125 and 150 inmates.

Wallace Dow was the architect. He also designed the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls. By November of 1882, the pen’s central administration building was complete, as were its two cell blocks, one on each side. On this date in 1882, twenty-nine prisoners arrived from Detroit, Michigan. The first inmate delivered to the prison was serving 12 years for murder.

By 1883, inmates were working at the pen’s three-acre stone quarry. They were paid twenty cents a day to build a stone wall surrounding the yard. Other structures like a warden’s house, laundry, boiler building and a women’s detention building were completed or under construction by 1884.

With the Dakota settlement boom well underway, another territorial prison was built in Bismarck in 1885, which had become the Territorial capital. The new prison took in thirty-five men from the Sioux Falls facility. And in 1889, when statehood split Dakota Territory into North and South, the institutions became the North Dakota and South Dakota State Prisons.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


"https://doc.sd.gov/about/history/" https://doc.sd.gov/about/history/

"http://www.argusleader.com/story/life/2014/10/05/looking-back-state-prison-complete/16586823/" http://www.argusleader.com/story/life/2014/10/05/looking-back-state-prison-complete/16586823/

"https://doc.sd.gov/about/history/timeline.aspx" https://doc.sd.gov/about/history/timeline.aspx

"https://www.nd.gov/docr/adult/sphistory.pdf" https://www.nd.gov/docr/adult/sphistory.pdf