Aberdeen South Dakota Historic Walking Tour
This walking tour combines historic buildings and museums and includes two stops related to Aberdeen's most famous resident, L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz.
One of many depots connecting Chicago with the Pacific Coast (off Washington State), this depot served both the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and Aberdeen itself. The railroad helped Aberdeen grow during its "boom period" of the late 1880s and into the 20th century. The railroad operated until the 1980s following bankruptcies and having to close down most of its more western rail lines. This depot still stands and houses various clubs such as the Model Railroad Club.
In order for this this depot to be constructed, one of Aberdeen's first hotels, the Park Place, had to be moved. And this was after a court case ensued to determine if the Great Northern Railway was to pay for this removal or not, and if they were to pay, how much would they be paying for said removal. A jury determined the railway had to pay $17,000 in 1906. Soon this L-shaped depot was constructed, mainly to be a stop for the shuttling of freight such as grain, though it was also used for passengers as well. This depot was used until 1965. It closed due to as less and less people used the railway and the Aberdeen stop. Since 1982 it has housed the law office of Richardson, Wyly, Wise, Sauck & Hieb, LLP.
Containing over 17 homes, this section of Aberdeen was christened the Highlands District given its location rising a mere three feet higher than Aberdeen's Commercial District which is located nearby. This district came to being between the years 1907-1969. The homes constructed give not only a look into Aberdeen's past but also how off the area's various architectural styles. Walking tour brochures are available to visitors at Aberdeen's official website for download and in the visitor's bureau building.
The Dacotah Prairie Museum features an annual rotation of exhibits pertaining to local history, culture, wild life, and geography. Daily presentations, seasonal camps, and a revolving cycle of exhibits change regularly, but are updated on the Museum's website and social media.
Also known as the Aberdeen Historic District, the Hagerty & Lloyd district (also known as an "addition") is the city's most famous district. Constituting of Third Ave SE, 6th Ave SE and bordered by Jay and Arch streets, this rectangular district was created under the aspirations of two local bankers seeking to expand the city as it's role as an important railroad hub in the the territory gained prominence. The area was also favored because of its "dry" status. This meant that it did run off a slough, or, a swamp. Much of the city was in slough-like situation due to the Moccasin Creek that ran through it. The district is often visited and locals help out by holding walking tours.
L. Frank Baum, who would later be famous for his tales of Oz, came to Aberdeen South Dakota 1888 with his small family from their home in New York. While living here for 3 years, Baum opened this bazaar. The purpose of his store was to offer luxury goods to the people during the Dakotas economic boom that took place due to gold being discovered in the 1870s and land available for those seeking to start anew. However, Baum's Bazaar failed a year later as the boom ended; and for his knack of being too generous with giving people credit. A new building replaced the bazaar years later. He would edit a local newspaper until 1891 when economic circumstances forced the family to move, this time to Chicago.
This is the most iconic church found in Aberdeen. As Aberdeen grew, so did its Methodist population. Generally meeting in the open and sitting on planks held up by beer barrels, Aberdeen's Methodists got together to build a church. The first one constructed suited their needs only for a short time. By 1909, this church was finished after four years of work, big enough for the congregation and ready for increasing membership. This church is still very active to this day.
As the Dakota Territory's economic boom drew to a close, L. Frank Baum, future author of The Wonder Wizard of Oz, and his family moved to Aberdeen to make a living, having lost their living off of L. Frank's writing and acting following a fire that destroyed the theater he worked for in New York City. Arriving in Aberdeen in 1888, the Baum's lived in this home until forced to move in 1891 to Chicago, again for economic reasons. The home today is privately owned.