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Trail of Governors
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Pierre, SD 57501

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updated 4/19/2021

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updated 4/3/2020

Latest News

Trail of Governors announces statue unveiling

Contact: Rick Jensen, President, Trail of Governors Foundation, (605) 454-0689,

PIERRE, S.D. – The Trail of Governors Foundation Board will unveil three former governors’ statues at 10 a.m. on June 11 at the State Capitol in Pierre.

The three new life-size, bronze statues will portray these governors:

Charles H. Sheldon, a Pierpont Republican, was the state’s 2nd governor. A farmer, he has served in the territorial legislative council prior to being elected governor.  Sheldon was a popular orator, representing the Republican party at events across South Dakota following his term as governor. It was in Deadwood where he died from pneumonia while on such a tour.

Coe I. Crawford, a Huron Republican, was the state’s 6th governor. Before serving as governor, he was a teacher and then railroad attorney after earning his law degree. He also served in Dakota Territory’s final legislative council, as a state legislator, and as attorney general prior to being elected governor. After leaving the governor’s office, Crawford was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Carl Gunderson, a Mitchell Republican, was the state’s 11th governor. Gunderson was a farmer, a state senator, and lieutenant governor before being elected governor. Gunderson received an engineering and surveying degree from the University of South Dakota. He homesteaded in Clay County and also farmed in Aurora County. He is buried at Bluff View Cemetery in Vermillion, on land he originally homesteaded.

Statues of the three governors will be unveiled in a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda on June 11, 2021. They will join 23 completed statues along the trail. Once placed next summer, only three statues of former governors will remain to complete the trail. Each statue tells a story of not only that governor, but also of the unique time in history during which they served.

The Trail of Governors statues are funded by donations, and donor sponsor opportunities are still available for Govs. Sheldon, Crawford and Gunderson. All donations are tax deductible.

More information is available at


Dear Friend of the Trail of Governors,

Speaking of history, we are living through a most memorable time. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many aspects of our lives and here is yet another. The Trail of Governors Foundation board is postponing the new statue unveiling that was planned for June 2020. We will announce a new unveiling date for the bronzes of Govs. Sheldon, Crawford and Gunderson when we believe it is safe to do so. We will email you again when we have a new date to share.

If you have questions or wish to be a donor for one of these statues or the trail project, we welcome hearing from you: email or call 605-454-0689.

Stay tuned and stay safe.

~Trail of Governors Foundation Board

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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