Viborg Danish Days

Viborg, SD 57070

About Us:

Peter Larsen Christiansen has the indubious honor of being the first Dane to settle in the area around Viborg, South Dakota. He came here in 1864 and homesteaded near Swan Lake. At this time Dakota Territory was still in its infancy, being created in 1861, and its population was extremely sparse; especially in what is now Turner County. As a matter of fact, it can be said that Danish people were living in this region even before the organization of Turner County. The Dakota Territorial Government, located at Yankton, established Turner County on January 13, 1871. By this time several Danish families had already settled in the area south of Swan Lake.

In 1872 Mads Rasmussen began operating a store on his homestead claim, which was located one half mile south of the present-day site of Viborg. After the establishment of a post office in conjunction with the store, this small business became known as Daneville. Soon other businesses, such as a creamery and a blacksmith shop, began to arise around Mads Rasmussen's store. Daneville quickly became a thriving little village. The success of this Danish hamlet, however, would not be long-lived.

A desire for many of these early settlers was the establishment of a railroad line to exist within their community. In 1893 the Sioux Falls, Yankton, and Southwestern Railroad, which later became the Great Northern Railroad, completed a rail line between the cities of Sioux Falls and Yankton. Thus, this new railroad went right through the Danish settlement in Turner County. Unfortunately, the railway missed the village of Daneville by one half mile. A group of individuals then decided to build a new town along the railroad tracks north of Daneville. On a recommendation of Ole Sorensen, who was one of the land owners on which the new village was founded, the town was named Viborg after an ancient city in Denmark.

Following the establishment of Viborg, Daneville gradually ceased to exist. Andrew Jensen, who purchased Mads Rasmussen's store, quickly moved his place of business to Viborg. Eventually the blacksmith shop also moved to Viborg, and the creamery discontinued to operate. The once thriving hamlet of Daneville had become a distant memory.

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