Statues Honor Former Governors

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

PIERRE, S.D. – A non-profit foundation is working to commemorate those leaders who have held South Dakota’s top position.

The Trail of Governors Foundation will create life-sized bronze statues of South Dakota’s previous governors. The statues will be privately funded and erected in Pierre.

Pierre businessman Rick Jensen serves as the newly-created foundation’s president. He said the statues will form a trail through the state’s Capitol grounds and downtown Pierre which people can follow to learn more about South Dakota’s 30 previous governors as well as the state’s history.

“South Dakota is a small state and our governors are held in high esteem,” Jensen said. “They are friends, neighbors and relatives. They are real people and we want to honor them and our rich history.”

Jensen said each statue will be funded through private donations, and the group hopes to fund, commission and erect at least one statue and possibly more per year. Up to four donors will be accepted for naming rights for each statue and these donors will be recognized with a plaque designed with the bronze sculpture. The group is encouraging donations of any size via its Web site, and all donations – both large and small – will be recognized on the project’s Web site.

The foundation plans to create a statue of the state’s first governor, Arthur Mellette, during 2011. Jensen said the group is choosing governors on each end of the timeline and working inward over the course of the entire project. A schedule has been developed based on this formula, but additional governors may be created in a year if donors come forward with sufficient funding. The South Dakota Community Foundation is handling donations.

“We plan to follow the schedule as best we can, but we anticipate instances where someone is especially passionate about a particular governor and will want him sculpted sooner,” Jensen said. “When this happens, we will do everything we can to ensure a statue is moved up in the schedule.”

South Dakota sculptors have been chosen to create the statues: John Lopez of Lemmon, James Michael Maher of Belle Fourche, Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby of Aberdeen. These artists are well-known for their sculptures throughout South Dakota and public and private works of art in various U.S. cities. Lopez is sculpting the trail’s first statue of Gov. Mellette.

“This is a South Dakota project,” Jensen said. “We are receiving positive feedback from people across the state. It is a great way of recognizing these leaders who contributed so much to our state. There is no other project like this in any other U.S. state.”

For more information and to learn how to sponsor a statue, visit or email

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

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

Donated to Date:


updated 9/6/2023

Endowment Balance:


updated 9/6/2023

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