Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Infobox Settlement
official_name = City of Bell Fourche, South Dakota
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settlement_type = City
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mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location in Butte County and the state of South Dakota

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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = South Dakota
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Butte
subdivision_type3 =
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leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Dave Schneider
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established_title = Incorporated
established_date = 1903
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unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_total_km2 = 8.4
area_land_km2 = 8.2
area_water_km2 = 0.2
area_total_sq_mi = 3.2
area_land_sq_mi = 3.2
area_water_sq_mi = 0.1
area_water_percent =
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population_as_of = 2000
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population_total = 4,565
population_density_km2 = 557.8
population_density_sq_mi = 1446.9
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timezone = MST
utc_offset = -7
timezone_DST = MDT
utc_offset_DST = -6
latd = 44 |latm = 40 |lats = 3 |latNS = N
longd = 103 |longm = 51 |longs = 1 |longEW = W
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 921
elevation_ft = 3022
postal_code_type = ZIP Code
postal_code = 57717
area_code = 605
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 46-04380GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 1265119GR|3
website =
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Belle Fourche is a city in and the county seat of Butte County, South Dakota, United States.GR|6 The population was 4,565 at the 2000 census. Belle Fourche is the site of the geographic center of the United States.


This information taken from the Belle Fourche America's Hometown Booklet (1998) Belle Fourche (French for "beautiful fork") was named by French explorers when this area was owned by France, for the confluence of what is now known as the Belle Fourche and Redwater Rivers and the Hay Creek. Beaver trappers worked these rivers until the mid 1800s, and Belle Fourche became a well known fur trading rendezvous point. During and after the great gold rush of 1876, farmers and ranchers alike settled in the fertile valleys, growing food for the miners and their work animals. At the same time the open plains for hundred of miles in all directions were being filled by huge herds of Texas and Kansas cattle. Towns sprang up to serve the ever changing needs of the farmers and ranchers. In 1884, the Marquis de Mores, a French nobleman and contemporary of Theodore Roosevelt, established a stage line between Medora, North Dakota and Deadwood, South Dakota. The Belle Fourche way station included a stage barn and a saloon. Knowing the cattle barons and the railroad would need a point at which to load the herds of cattle onto freight cars for shipment to the packing plants in the midwest, Seth Bullock provided a solution and became the parent, in effect, of Belle Fourche, the city. Bullock had come to the Black Hills from Canada to mine gold in 1848, but had quickly tired of panning gold. After serving in the Montana legislature in 1871-1873 (and being instrumental in the establishment of a National Park at Yellowstone), he had come to the Black Hills to cash in selling supplies to the Deadwood miners, arriving August 2, 1876,the day Wild Bill Hickock was murdered. During the next 14 years, Bullock acquired land as homesteaders along the Belle Fourche River "proved up" and sold out. When the railroad came to the Hills and refused to pay the prices demanded by nearby township of Minnesela, he was ready. Seth offered the railroad free right-of-way and offered to build the terminal if the railroad would locate it at a point on his land near where the present Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange exists. In 1890, the first train load of cattle headed east. By 1895, Belle Fourche was shipping 2500 carloads of cattle per month in the peak season, making it the world's largest livestock shipping point. This was the start of the agriculture center of the Tri-State area that Belle Fourche would become, and still is, well known for.

After winning a competition with Minnesela over the railroad which now goes through Belle Fourche, Bullock's town went on to win the county seat in the election of 1894. Still, overambitious cowboys rode into Minnesela and stole the county books. Belle Fourche today serves a large trade area of ranches and farms. The wool, cattle, and bentonite industries have been important to the growth of Belle Fourche. Belle Fourche serves gateway to the Northern Black Hills.


Belle Fourche is located at coor dms|44|40|2|N|103|51|1|W|city (44.667343, -103.850350)GR|1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.4 km²), of which, 3.2 square miles (8.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (2.48%) is water.

Belle Fourche has been assigned the ZIP code 57717, and the FIPS place code 04380.

In 1959, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey officially designated a point 20 miles north of Belle Fourche as the Geographic Center of the Nation.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 4,565 people, 1,854 households, and 1,186 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,446.9 people per square mile (557.8/km²). There were 2,122 housing units at an average density of 672.6/sq mi (259.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.03% White, 0.15% African American, 1.91% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 1.27% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.70% of the population.

There were 1,854 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,875, and the median income for a family was $35,506. Males had a median income of $26,763 versus $15,275 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,051. About 9.0% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.8% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

Notable natives

*Jason Kubel - Baseball player for the Minnesota Twins.
*Bill Pearson - Comics artist.
*Marty Eaton, Miss South Dakota Teen USA 1995
*Marvin Garrett - Four-time PRCA World Champion Bareback Rider (1988, 1989, 1993, 1994)


* [ "Tale of Two Towns"]
* [ Belle Fourche]

External links

* [ Belle Fourche Official Home]
* [ Belle Fourche Post & Bee - local newspaper]
* [ Belle Fourche School District]

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