Frequently Asked Questions

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Who came up with this idea?
Two foundation board members (Rick Jensen and Leroy Foster) came up with the idea of creating a trail of governor statues to celebrate South Dakota’s history and the fact that Pierre is the Capital City. It only seemed fitting to them that likenesses of the state’s governors and their legacies be added to the Pierre landscape, as these leaders have made such a large impact on this city and our state.
How many statues will be erected initially?
The plan is to erect statues for every South Dakota governor who has served our state and is no longer in office. This totals 30 individuals to-date. This will be an ongoing process which will continue to honor future governors.
Where will the statues be placed, on private property, city or state property?
The statues will be placed on city property, creating a trail from the Missouri River-front area, through downtown Pierre and continuing to and around the state Capitol complex. The City of Pierre and the state of South Dakota support the project and each government is represented on the foundation by ex-officio board members.
Will there be a map of the trail?
Yes, the foundation will print and distribute copies of walking trail maps for those wishing to follow the trail. These maps will include biographies for each governor. The maps will be distributed via both the city’s and the state’s visitor centers. They will also be available to print from the trail’s Web site:
How many statues will be completed each year?
The foundation’s goal is to erect a minimum of three statues per year. There is a possibility of sculpting up to six statues in a year, depending upon donors. If a donor comes forward with funding for a specific governor, all efforts will be made to complete that sculpture during the year.
What is the schedule for statues to be erected?
The schedule outlines three statues per year for ten years. The governor statues will follow the timeline and order established working from outside inward, i.e. the first year’s statues will include an early governor (Mellette) and a recent governor to leave office (Miller), as well as a mid-timeline governor (Bushfield). Collectively, the artists have the ability to do up to six statues each year. Thus, additional governors may be moved up within the timeline provided a sponsor comes forward with full funding. Once the full decade and the original 30 statues are completed, more recent governors will be added to the project as they leave the governor’s office. If a sponsor comes forth with funding for a specific governor, that sculpture will be added to the three specified for the year.
How will the statues be made?
Each statue will be a life-size bronze created by a South Dakota artist, based on research of that governor. The artists refer to family members, history books and documents on file in the state’s archives to conduct their research. Each sculpture will reflect the human side of the governor it portrays.
Who are the statue artists?

Well-known and respected South Dakota artists are involved in the project: John Lopez, Lee Leuning/Sherri Treeby, James Michael Maher and James Van Nuys.

How are the statues funded?

The statues are funded primarily by donations, and the completed statues will be donated to the city of Pierre.

How much does each statue cost?
The payment is part of a contractual agreement between the foundation and each artist. The $72,000 sponsorship covers most costs associated with sculpting and erecting the statues and plaques.
Is there another governor statue project like this in the country?
There are no identical projects or governor trails like this according to information collected by the board. This will be a uniquely South Dakota attraction.
Will there be an unveiling event for the statues?

Yes, each year with new statues to unveil, the foundation holds an unveiling event at the state Capitol.

Who is on the foundation board? How were they selected?

There are seven members: President Rick Jensen, Leroy Foster, Patricia Miller, Chuck Schroyer, Tina Van Camp, Patricia Van Gerpen, and Tony Vehuizen. Jensen and Foster started the trail and foundation ideas and recruited the other members. Ex-officio members represent the state of South Dakota, the city of Pierre, the South Dakota Community Foundation, and other supporters.

If I am interested in donating to the fund, who do I contact?
You may contact President Rick Jensen, any board member or the South Dakota Community Foundation. Advisory Board members are located throughout the state. For a complete list, please refer to Donations may also be made online. All donations are tax-deductible.

Donate Today!

Preferred method mail to:
Trail of Governors
2310 Patron Parkway
PO Box 296
Pierre SD 57501

Click here to Donate Online!

Donations of any amount are welcome and will be posted on the Donors page.

Donated to Date:


updated 6/5/2024

Endowment Balance:


updated 6/5/2024

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