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Trail of Governors
1714 N. Lincoln
Pierre, SD 57501
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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 www.TrailofGovernors.com.
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 https://runsignup.com/Race/SD/Pierre/RunwiththeGovs and on Facebook.
Join us Friday, June 15 at 10am as we unveil these statues in the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre.
10th Governor of South Dakota – William McMaster (1921-1925) – Artist, James Van Nuys
17th Governor of South Dakota – Merrell Sharpe (1943-1947) – Artist, Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby
21st Governor of South Dakota – Ralph Herseth (1959-1961) – Artist, James Michael Maher
The year 2016 was historic for South Dakota’s Trail of Governors as the foundation reached the half-way point with 15 bronze statues – half of our former governors’ images. We celebrated this milepost of the journey on this Trail since beginning six years ago with zero dollars and a handful of volunteers. Progress continues to rely on volunteers from board members to underwriters, artists to historians, advisors to donors.
Established in 2010, the Trail of Governors Foundation is committed to honoring South Dakota’s chief executives in a unique and lasting manner.
While the physical trail is located in South Dakota’s state capital, the project has brought partners together from across the state and beyond its borders.
The foundation has commissioned South Dakota artists to create life-sized, bronze statues of the state’s past governors. A minimum of three statues will be erected each year and the “Trail of Governors” will connect the state capitol and the Missouri River. The foundation is relying entirely upon private donations and corporate underwriters to fulfill its vision. Dakota Prairie Bank and Leroy and Charlene Foster are providing interest-free loans to underwrite a portion of this project and up to four sponsors are needed to fund each statue. The South Dakota Community Foundation is also a project partner and all donations are tax-deductible. Up to four sponsors are needed for each South Dakota governor and donations are tax-deductible.
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. A timeline for the creation of each statue may be found here.
This is a truly unique and South Dakotan way to honor our state’s leaders. We hope this project will spark your interest and we hope you will contact us with any questions or comments you might have. In the meantime, we ask you to check back occasionally and follow the progress! Thanks again for stopping by and enjoy our website!
Bob Schmidt of Farm Credit Services of America presenting a $17,000 check to Buddy Seiner of the SD Community Foundation for Governor Joe Foss to be completed in 2017. With Trail of Governor’s Foundation board members Chuck Schroyer & Leroy Foster.