Originally part of the territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, the location now known as Yankton, South Dakota was first marked as open for settlement in 1859. The county seat of Yankton County, it’s located along the Missouri River and near the James River, earning it the nickname of “River City.” The close proximity of the Missouri River and its Rhine Creek tributary made the city a popular layover point for traveling steamboats during the Black Hills Gold Rush. Over the years, the Missouri River continued to serve as a major contributing factor to the settlement and growth of Yankton. As of 2000, the city was home to nearly 14,000 permanent residents. Its most famous native inhabitant was Tom Brokaw, the nationally recognized news anchor.
Historic downtown Yankton offers more than 150 eclectic gift shops, antique brokers, art galleries, and specialty stores. Shoppers can satisfy their appetites at a variety of dining establishments, including Jo Dean’s Steakhouse. Its small-town charm and unique architecture make downtown Yankton an inviting destination for tourists. The area’s historical residential communities and homes can be explored in guided tours.
The city is also home to a variety of cultural museums and art galleries, such as the Dakota Territorial Museum and Bede Art Gallery. Superior education is offered by a public school district, a Catholic primary school, and Mount Marty College. The school district’s athletic events and debate tournaments draw a large number of local spectators. Each summer, Yankton hosts a cultural and recreational celebration called Riverboat Days, where more than 135,000 people enjoy cultural art displays, diverse food offerings, a golf tournament, and a spirited parade and rodeo. The musically inclined can visit the Riverside Park Amphitheatre, which hosts weekly summer concerts.