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Aberdeen is a city and the county seat of Brown Countymarker, South Dakotamarker, USAmarker, about 125 mi (200 km) northeast of Pierremarker. Settled in 1880, it was incorporated in 1882. The city population was 24,658 at the 2000 census. The American News is the local newspaper. Also it is the home of Northern State University (NSU), and Presentation College (PC).

Aberdeen is the principal city of the Aberdeen Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Brown and Edmundsmarker counties and has a population of 39,827.

Geography and climate

Aberdeen is located in northeastern South Dakota, in the James River valley, approximately west of the river. The James River enters northeastern South Dakota in Brown Countymarker, where it is dammed to form two reservoirs northeast of Aberdeen. The city is bisected by Moccasin Creek, a slow-moving waterway which flows south and then northeast to the James River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.0 square miles (33.7 km²), of which, 13.0 square miles (33.6 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.54%) is water.

Aberdeen has been assigned the ZIP code range 57401-57402.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 60 62 82 98 96 112 117 120 108 96 78 62
Norm High °F 21.4 28.5 40.2 57.4 70.2 78.7 84.7 83.5 73.0 59.2 38.8 25.7
Norm Low °F 0.6 8.8 21.2 33.4 45.6 54.8 59.7 57.4 46.5 34.4 19.7 6.3
Rec Low °F -35 -45 -32 -2 13 33 39 32 20 8 -27 -39
Precip (in) 0.48 0.48 1.34 1.83 2.69 3.49 2.92 2.42 1.81 1.63 0.75 0.38



Before Aberdeen or Brown County was inhabited by European settlers, it was inhabited by the Sioux Indians from approximately 1700 to 1879. The first appearance of Caucasians was with the founding of fur trading posts during the 1820s; these trading posts remained operational until the mid 1830s. The first “settlers” of this region were the Arikara Indians, but they would later be joined by others.

The first group of Caucasian settlers to reach the area that is now Brown County was a party of only four people, three horses, two mules, fifteen cattle, and two wagons. This group of settlers was later joined by another group the following spring, and eventually more and more settlers migrated towards this general area which is currently Columbia, South Dakotamarker. This town was established on June 15, 1879.

The majority of the settlers were Caucasian, with the next largest group being Native American, a trend that has continued to this day.

Creation of the town

Aberdeen, like many towns of the Midwest, was built around the newly developing railroad systems. Aberdeen was first officially plotted as a town site on January 3, 1881, by Charles Prior, the superintendent of the Minneapolis office of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, or the Milwaukee Road for short, which was presided over by Alexander Mitchell. Mitchell, Charles Prior’s boss, was born in Aberdeenmarker, United Kingdommarker, after which the town of Aberdeen, South Dakota, was named. Aberdeen was officially founded on July 6, 1881, the date of the first arrival of a Milwaukee Railroad train. Aberdeen then operated under a city charter granted by the Territorial Legislature in March, 1883.

As Aberdeen grew, many businesses and buildings were constructed along Aberdeen’s Main Street. However, this soon became a problem due to Aberdeen’s “unique” geography; Aberdeen is, after all, referred to as “The Town in the Frog Pond”. At first, this unique condition presented no problem to the newly constructed buildings because it had not rained very much; but eventually, citizens would see how inconvenient the problem would become. During dry periods, this Frog Pond caused no trouble and was unnoticeable; but when heavy rains fell, the Pond reappeared and flooded the basements of every building on Main Street, causing many business owners and home owners much turmoil. When this flooding happened, the city had only one little steam pump that had to be used to dry out the entire area that had been flooded, which would take days, if not weeks – and more often than not, it would have rained again in this time period and caused even more flooding, even in the basements that had already been emptied of the water. And then, even once the water was gone from the basements, the city still had to deal with the mud that was also a result of the heavy rains. It was because of this Frog Pond that the city decided in 1882 to build an artesian ditch, which was later upgraded and developed into an artesian well in 1884 to combat the heavy rains and keep the basements from flooding. Even though the artesian well was designed by the city engineers to prevent flooding and develop a water system, this was not how things happened; during the digging of the well, the water stream that was found underground was too powerful to contain due to the built up pressure, which caused the water to come blasting out with violent force and soon had the entire Main Street under, in some cases, four feet of water. The engineers realized the previous flaws of the artesian well plan and soon added a gate valve to the well to control the flow of water, giving Aberdeen its first working water supply.

By 1886, Aberdeen had three different railroad companies with depots built in the newly developing town. With these three railroads intersecting here, Aberdeen soon became known as the “Hub City of the Dakotas”. When looking down on Aberdeen from above, the railroad tracks converging in Aberdeen resembled the spokes of a wheel converging at a hub, hence the name “Hub City of the Dakotas”. These three railroad companies are the reason why Aberdeen was able to grow and flourish as it did; however, only one of these railroads is still running through Aberdeen, the railroad today known as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

According to the census of 1900, Aberdeen had a population of 4,087; by the census of 1910, it had reached 10,752, an increase of 163 percent. It was from these censuses that Aberdeen was predicted to reach a population of 50,000 by 1920. However, this was not the case; the population soon began to decline. The estimated population in July 2006 was 24,071, a 2.4% decrease since 2000. Community groups blame this decline on the flight of young adults and an increasingly aging population.

Aberdeen is the county seat of Brown County. The original county seat was, however, Columbiamarker. During the days of the railroad construction, plans were laid to bring the railroad through Columbia, then the county seat. When word of this spread, land in and around Columbia soared in price due to speculation. When time came for the railroads to purchase land, the increase in land prices led them to change their decision and instead to route the rail lines through Aberdeen. However, once Aberdeen became a town in 1881, there was a long-running controversy concerning which town would be the county seat, which continued until 1890, when it was declared by the newly formed South Dakota state constitution in 1889 that a majority vote could move the county seat if the county seat in question had originally been established by less than a majority vote. The result of the vote declared that Aberdeen would be the county seat once and for all, so all of the records were once again transferred to Aberdeen’s courthouse; during the battle for county seat, the records had been moved from Columbia’s courthouse to Aberdeen’s courthouse (which was built from 1886 to 1887), and back again to Columbia’s in what seemed to be a never-ending cycle of the transferring of records. This was typically done in the form of nighttime raids from the two towns.

May 2007 flood

During a 48-hour period beginning on the morning of Friday, May 4, and ending on the morning of Sunday, May 6, Aberdeen received of precipitation. This rain flooded city streets, making many of them impassible for a short time, and caused water damage to many homes. Within 2 weeks of the storm, over 300 families had requested assistance from disaster response agencies. By May 25, 104 houses had been condemned due to the damage; of these, 47 were declared unlivable. Brown County, which includes Aberdeen, was declared a disaster area.


As of the census of 2000, there were 24,658 people, 10,553 households and 6,184 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,902.1 per square mile (734.4/km²). There were 11,259 housing units at an average density of 868.5/sq mi (335.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.61% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 3.17% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. 0.79% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 53.7% were of German, 15% Norwegian and 8.5% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 10,553 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,276, and the median income for a family was $43,882. Males had a median income of $30,355 versus $20,092 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,923. About 7.6% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.


Public schools

The Aberdeen School District 6-1 has five elementary schools. These are C.C. Lee, Lincoln, May Overby, O.M. Tiffany and Simmons. The two middle schools are Holgate, which serves the north side of Aberdeen, and Simmons, which serves the south side of the city. There is one high school, Central High School. The Hub Area Technical School is located in the district. Aberdeen also has an alternative middle and high school.

The Aberdeen School District’s enrollment for the year 2006-2007 was approximately 3,650 students, and the average class size was in the low to mid twenties. Due to a projected increase in enrollment and the modernization of facilities, Simmons Middle school will be significantly remodeled with the demolition of the original 1929 building and the addition of a new classroom and cafeteria building. The public school in Aberdeen is AA under the SDHSAA.

Parochial schools

Aberdeen has several parochial schools, including the Catholic-affiliated Roncalli High Schoolmarker, the nondenominational Aberdeen Christian School and the Trinity Lutheran School.

Special programs

The South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a state special school under the direction of the South Dakota Board of Regents. South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Higher Education

Northern State University

Northern State Universitymarker is a public university that was founded in 1889 and today occupies a campus. 2,528 students, ranging from first year to graduate students, attended NSU for the 2006-2007 school year. The student to teacher ratio is 19:1.

NSU was originally called the Institute of South Dakota before changing its name to Northern Normal and Industrial School in 1901. It changed its name again in 1939 when it became the Northern State Teachers College, and again in 1964, becoming Northern State College before finalizing at Northern State University in 1989.

NSU offers thirty-eight majors and forty-two minors as well as other degrees, and also has nine graduate degree areas for students wishing to further their education after achieving their first degree.

The mascot of NSU is the wolf.

Presentation College

Presentation College is a Catholic college on a campus. PC had approximately 800 students in the 2006 spring semester. PC offers 26 programs between the main Aberdeen campus and the other campuses located throughout the state. Most of the degrees offered are in the health-care field. The student to teacher ratio is 12:1. Presenation's mascot is the Saint, giving it the nickname the Presentation College Saints.


Aberdeen’s main healthcare provider is the Avera St. Luke’s Hospital. There are several nursing homes in the area, including Avera Mother Joseph Manor, Manor Care, Bethesda, Angelhaus and Gellhaus Carehaus.

Arts and culture

The Aberdeen area has several cultural organizations.

The Aberdeen Area Arts Council publishes a small monthly newspaper, ARTiFACTS, with information on area events.

The Aberdeen Community Theatre was created in 1979 and performs at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Aberdeen. The Capitol Theatre was originally built in 1926 and donated to the Aberdeen Community Theatre in 1991; since then more than $963,000 has been spent on renovating and preserving the historical aspect of the Capitol Theatre. Today, the Aberdeen Community Theatre performs five mainstage productions and three youth productions per year.

The NSU Theater Department puts on plays during the school year.

The ArtWorks Cooperative is a partnership of artists who work to market their artwork in a gallery setting. The ArtWorks Cooperative sells artists’ work and provides an environment that will benefit the artist in terms of artist-to-artist communication, and public interest.

There are four galleries in Aberdeen: Presentation College’s Wein Gallery, Northern State Universitymarker’s Lincoln Gallery, the Aberdeen Recreation & Cultural Center (ARCC) Gallery and the ArtWorks Cooperative Gallery located in the Lakewood Mall.

Sports and recreation

Family Aquatic Center

Completed in the summer of 2007, this complex includes a zero entry pool, competition lap pool, lazy river, numerous water slides, play sand area, and a concession area.


Aberdeen is presently home to 24 public tennis courts throughout the city - Melgaard Park (4), Northern State University (12), and Holgate Middle School (8).


Aberdeen has three golf courses. These are Lee Park Municipal Golf Course, Moccassin Creek Country Club and Rolling Hills Country Club. Lee Park and Moccassin Creek are both 18 hole courses. Rolling Hills is a combined nine hole course and housing development which opened in 2005.


Aberdeen has a skate park located between East Melgaard Road and 17th Ave SE at Melgaard Park. The equipment installed includes a quarter pipe, penalty box with half pyramid, bank ramp, spine, kinked rail and a ground rail.

Disc golf

Aberdeen has two disc golf courses, Kuhnert Arboretum and the Richmond Lake Disc Golf Course.

Richmond Lake Recreation Area

The Richmond Lake Recreation Area is used by all types of outdoors enthusiasts. Three separate areas in this park cater to the needs of campers, swimmers, naturalists, boaters and anglers. Campers stay in the South Unit, while the Forest Drive Unit is a great place for wildlife viewing. The Boat Ramp Unit provides access to the more than lake.

Richmond Lake Recreation Area's small campground offers a quiet camping experience. The park also features a wheelchair accessible camping cabin.

The park's extensive trail system features over of trails, including both accessible and interpretive trails. Hikers, bikers and horseback riders can observe the abundance of prairie plants and wildlife of the area up-close.

The park has multiple private and public boat ramps as well as an accessible fishing dock. Richmond Lake has a population of walleye, northern pike, bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and bullheads within its waters. An entrance fee is required to gain access to the water and park itself.

Wylie Park Recreation Area

Wylie Park Recreation Area features go kart racing, sand volleyball courts, access to Wylie Lake, camping area, picnic areas, and is connected to Storybook Land. Wylie Lake is a small man-made lake, open in the summer months for swimming, lying on the beach, and paddleboating.
Storybook Land castle

Storybook Land

Storybook Land is a park with attractions from several different children's storybooks. The park contains a castle, as well as a train that takes visitors through the park. There are two barns which contain petting zoos. Newly added is the Land of Oz, that features characters and attractions from L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz". Baum was a resident of Aberdeen in the 1880s, but left after the failure of the newspaper he was editing.

Minor League Baseball

Aberdeen has been home to three minor league baseball teams since 1920. The Aberdeen Boosters, a class D league team, played in 1920, the Aberdeen Grays, also a class D team, played from 1921 to 1923. The class C Aberdeen Pheasants from 1946 to 1971, and 1995 to 1997. The Pheasants were the affiliate of the former St. Louis Browns (current Baltimore Orioles). Aberdeen was a train stop to the majors for such notable players as Don Larsen (perfect game in the World Series), Lou Pinella (AL rookie of the year with Kansas City Royals in 1969), and Jim Palmer, Baseball Hall of Famemarker pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.


There are many Christian churches in Aberdeen, but few houses of worship for other religions. There are several Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist churches in the area, as well as one synagogue.

Local government

Aberdeen is the center of government for Brown County. City government is overseen by a mayor/city manager and eight council members. The city council is composed of Mayor/City Manager Mike Levson and council members Todd Campbell, Nancy Aman, James Kraft, Jeff Mitchell, Tom Agnitsch, David Bunsness, Clint Rux and Lloyd Hodgin. Each council member serves a five year term. County government is overseen by five commissioners. Each county commissioner serves a five year term. The county commissioners include Duane Sutton, Tom Fischbach, Nancy Hansen, Burt Elliot, and Mike Wiese. Aberdeen is home to Brown County offices including clerk-magistrate, county auditor, landfill office, register of deeds, county treasurer, coroner, emergency management, highway superintendent, public welfare, state’s attorney, and a few others. The state senators from Brown County include Al Novstrup and Jim Hundstad, and the state representatives included H. Paul Dennert, Elaine Elliot, Dennis Feickert and David Novstrup. They are all in office until December 2010

In 2008, Gov Mike Rounds named Aberdeen 2008 South Dakota Community of the Year.


Major employers

  • Avera Saint Luke’s Hospital: 1,379 employees
  • Aberdeen Public School District: 650
  • 3M: 402
  • Wyndham Worldwide: 400
  • Wells Fargo Auto Finance: 450
  • Hub City Inc.: 339
  • South Dakota Wheat Growers: 310
  • Northern State University: 298
  • Kessler’s, Inc.: 260
  • Midstates Printing/Quality Quick Print: 300
  • Coventry Health Care



The Aberdeen Regional Airportmarker is currently served by Delta Connection. It offers flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airportmarker via the Saab 340 aircraft during most of the year, but is served by the Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft in October, due to the high amount of Common Pheasant hunters.


There are two major US highways that serve Aberdeen. One is US Highway 281 that runs north-south from the North Dakotamarker border to the border with Nebraskamarker. The second highway is US Highway 12 that runs east-west across northern South Dakota from the Minnesotamarker border before curving northwest into the southwestern corner of North Dakota. US Highway 12 is the major thoroughfare in Aberdeen. US Highway 12 is signed in the city of Aberdeen as 6th Avenue South. US Highway 281 was recently realigned onto a new bypass that was constructed around the western area of the city. Another new bypass is in the work for US Highway 12, to bypass around Aberdeen to the south.


Aberdeen Taxi service provides general taxi service in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Shuttle provides shuttle service to and from the airport along with general taxi services.

Jefferson Lines is a bus service from Aberdeen that connects to Sioux Falls, South Dakotamarker, Fargo, North Dakotamarker, and Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker.

Car rental
There are four car rental services in Aberdeen; Hertz, Avis, Payless & Toyota Rent-A-Car. Hertz and Avis Car rental are located in the terminal. Payless Car Rental is located in Aberdeen Flying Service. Toyota Rent-A-Car is located at Harr Motors across from the airport.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway conveys freight and grain through Aberdeen.

Popular attractions

Notable residents and natives

Super 8 Motels

Super 8 was founded in 1972 by Dennis Brown and Ron Rivett as a motel referral system, which was replaced with a franchise operation in 1973. The first Super 8, with 60 rooms, was opened in 1974 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, which still operates today as the Super 8 Aberdeen East.


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  5. Hundreds seek help in SD after flood - Disaster News Network

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