New governors’ statues unveiled June 14 in Pierre

PIERRE, S.D. – Statues for South Dakota Govs. Samuel Elrod, Archie Gubbrud and Dennis Daugaard were unveiled at the Capitol Rotunda on June 14.

Gov Kristi Noem took part in her first Trail of Governors ceremony as the three bronze statues were viewed for the first time by a crowd of attendees. The three former governors’ families took part in the ceremony along with many friends, former staff members and statue donors.

“We are proud of the history that is being told with the Trail of Governors,” Trail of Governors Foundation President Rick Jensen stated. “Only in South Dakota, can you walk among our state’s former governors. Along the way, you can admire the artwork created by our state’s finest sculptors and take in several interesting history lessons.”

“This project is reality thanks to the donors who generously contribute to the project. They understand the importance of telling South Dakota’s story and recognizing our leaders who have helped shape this state.”

The statues’ sculptors spoke about what inspired them to create the governors’ statues the way they appear in bronze: James Michael Maher, Lee Leuning, Sherri Treeby, and James Van Nuys.

The three newest statues will be added to the 22 statues that are already on the trail beginning at the Legion Cabin by Lake Sharpe, through downtown Pierre and winding around the Capitol grounds.

The trail’s statues are funded by donations made to the trail’s foundation, and managed by the South Dakota Community Foundation. All donor names are listed at

The primary donors to-date for Gov. Elrod’s statue are Gary and Connie Grittner with a one-quarter donation. Elrod served from 1905 to 1907 as the state’s 5th governor.

Gary and Connie Grittner have also provided one-quarter funding for Gov. Gubbrud’s statue. Gubbrud was the 22nd governor, serving from 1961 to 1965.

Major donors for Gov. Daugaard’s statue are Scott and Julia Jones, the South Dakota Community Foundation, Rotary Clubs of District 5610, and Gov. Daugaard’s family and friends. Daugaard served in office from 2011 to 2019 as the state’s 32nd governor.

A new addition that began last year during statue unveiling weekend in Pierre is a Run with the Govs event. It will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 15 by the Capitol’s front steps. All proceeds will go to the Trail of Governors Foundation. Those wishing to learn more about this 3.5-mile event can do so online at and on Facebook.

View Photos and Videos from the Ceremony


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