Sturgis & Meade County Historical Society
Located at the eastern edge of the Black Hills, Sturgis, South Dakota is internationally famous for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Each August, this event draws several hundred-thousand attendees from all over the globe. The history and importance of Sturgis and Meade County, however, pre-date the Rally by many decades.
In 1878, the U.S. Cavalry established a post in South Dakota named Fort Meade. Adjacent to that post, a small community of vendors set up near the fort. This enclave existed for the primary purpose of relieving the soldiers of some or all of their military pay by any means possible. This practice was termed “scooping” money from the troops and the settlement was appropriately called Scooptown. Because of its geographical position and eventual importance as a trading center, Scooptown became a community worthy of establishment as the town of Sturgis. The city was named after Samuel D. Sturgis, the first commander of Ft. Meade.
Meade County was named after Fort Meade, which was itself named for Gen. George G. Meade, a union commander of the Army of the Potomac during the battle of Gettysburg. Today, Meade County covers more than two million acres, but when it was created in 1889 it included only the southern half of the county. Ten years later, two counties on the north, Scobey and Delano, were incorporated to create the Meade County of today.
Sturgis & Meade County continue to flourish as a center of tourism, commerce, agriculture and ranching.