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About Interior And Scenic, South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota

November 17, 2022

Interior, South Dakota is Jackson County. Norwegian immigrants George and Louis Johnson moved from Chamberlain, South Dakota to the banks of the White River just north of the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1883 to establish a way-station for freighting between Chamberlain and the Black Hills. In 1886, the area was connected by rail to Gordon, Nebraska. In 1891, the former way-station was called Black with Mary Johnson as its first postmaster. In 1893, the town was renamed "Interior" by George Johnson because he did not think the name "Black" fit the description of the White River that surrounded the town. In 1907 and 1908, the town was moved two miles and half northwest along the White River to meet the Milwaukee Railroad. The former location of the town became known as "old Interior".

The town went through major developments in the 1910s: in 1910, an efficient water system transporting water directly from the White River to Interior was installed and an electric grid was installed in 1912. Now with unlimited freshwater combined with being situated along the Milwaukee Railroad and near the Badlands, local committees seized the opportunity to use the town's advantage. In 1919, 21 and 22, the town hosted roundups that tourists traveled by train as far from Minneapolis to see. The events hosted cowboys from across the country and Native Americans in traditional clothing also participating.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 94 people, 40 households, and 24 families residing in the town. The population density was 70.1 inhabitants per square mile (27.1/km2). There were 55 housing units at an average density of 41.0 per square mile (15.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 70.2% White, 19.1% Native American, and 10.6% from two or more races.

There were 40 households, of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.0% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 3.00.

The median age in the town was 41.5 years. 24.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 3.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.6% were from 25 to 44; 32.9% were from 45 to 64; and 12.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 46.8% male and 53.2% female.


Scenic is an unincorporated community in Pennington County, South Dakota, United States. It is located within Scenic Township, which had a 2010 census population of 58 inhabitants. The community is located adjacent to the Badlands National Park, about 50 miles southeast of Rapid City, or about one hour by car, along Highway 44.


The community was so named for the "scenic" setting of the town site.

As an economic decline hit the town in the 21st century, local businesswoman Twila Merrill acquired more and more of the town property until she owned most of it.

In July 2011, the 12-acre town and surrounding area—about 46 acres total—was listed for sale at $799,000. The sale included the post office (ZIP code 57780), Longhorn Saloon, a dance hall, bunkhouse, museum, and two stores. It also includes a train depot that is on an abandoned line that was part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and is the subject of a 104-mile rails-to-trail project between Rapid City and Kadoka.

In August 2011, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, English: Church of Christ), an independent, nontrinitarian Christian denomination based in the Philippines, bought the property for nearly $800,000, Pennington County records show. The church never disclosed why it acquired the property. In 2014, Daniel Simmons-Ritchie of the Rapid City Journal wrote that the INC "has done little with the town since its purchase."

In April 2015, an INC minister moved to the area and soon afterwards began leading services for 10–15 congregants who live near Scenic.

The Abandoned Town In South Dakota That Most People Stay Far, Far Away From

When you hear the name Scenic, South Dakota, what images come to mind? Maybe the natural landmarks you have come to know and expect from the Mount Rushmore State? A beautifully landscaped community chock-full of lush trees and colorful flowers? Maybe you just envision the state as a whole (since every corner is lovely in its own way)? Surprisingly, the town of Scenic, South Dakota is anything but and is currently in a state of ruin and disarray. Currently, the town sits abandoned and empty, as if it is waiting for nature to completely wipe it off the map, which may just make it the most abandoned town in South Dakota.

Once upon a time, the town of Scenic was a beloved hometown to many, serving as not only a friendly South Dakota community that so many of us have come to expect, but also as a convenient place to stop for travelers arriving in the Black Hills.

Sadly, lie countless other South Dakota communities, residents of the small town continued to move out over the years, leaving for bigger towns and better opportunities in other parts of the state.

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