History of Valley Springs


Valley Springs, also known as “The Front Door to South Dakota,” was settled along the Worthington, Yankton, and Fort Randall Trail around 1862.  The trail later was known as the Military Trail.  The 1862 Minnesota Indian War drove out the original settlers and in 1869 four of the first pioneers came to the area and settled Valley Springs from the west.  Many settled along the Military Trail on the high bank of the Beaver Creek between 1872 and 1873.  The railroad was established on June 4, 1878.  Billy Doolittle, who became mayor of Sioux Falls in 1908, would be the first to throttle the engine into Valley Springs, Dakota Territory.


After the arrival of the railroad, the town started to grow.  A new main street was developed (Broadway).  A map in Valley Springs’ museum listed four hotels, two blacksmiths, a bank, numerous stores, a jail, and a toe mill (which made hemp into rope).  Along with two elevators, a 10,000 sq. ft. steam-operated Roller Mill operated up to 24 hours a day.  The mill shipped four brands of flour-Gold Medal, Choice Family, Economy, and Dakota Best- all over the Midwest and also exported it. Valley Springs also had a creamery that could handle 20,000 lbs. of milk a day.  The map also shows a post office, stockyard, lumberyard, tinsmith, and a doctor’s office.  Valley Springs had everything that a good town needed. 


A new bank was built, and several years later it was robbed.  The bank robbers blew the safe in the bank. The robbers escaped by a railroad handcar, and had tied their horses near Beaver Valley Church.  The notorious James Brothers also became part of Valley Springs’ history after the Northfield, Minnesota bank fiasco.  The brothers stopped at the Nels Nelson farm in rural Valley Springs to water their horses and later returned to Nelson’s farm that night to “borrow” his horses.


There were also three very large sheep ranches around Valley Springs. At one point, Valley Springs was the largest grain shipping point in South Dakota.  Valley Springs had a large nursery owned by George Cassidy at the present day Cassidy Park.  In 1908 a tornado devastated the east side of Valley Springs but the town was quickly rebuilt.


When the interstate came through the country, it segregated a lot of the small towns from tourist and rural trade.  Valley Springs, as with many of the small towns, began to slide back in population.  It is now a small town of friendly people, a great school system, and a great water supply with access to the interstate.  Located at the tri-state corner, Valley Springs is rich in history and is ready for Billy Doolittle to throttle that rain into town and for the town to start booming once more.