Sioux Falls looks a lot different than when you were a kid. It's growing, growing, growing.

Some might say it's growing too fast, experiencing the ever present 'growing pains.' Others say it's no wonder Sioux Falls is growing, it's a great place to live!

As a kid I remember coming to Sioux Falls once or twice a year from our little farm by little Leota, Minnesota. At the time I figured this has to be the biggest town in the world! My goodness, the Kmart on Minnesota Avenue was just about as big as my hometown and yes, the town even had traffic lights, for cryin' out loud.

Now, of course, as Sioux Falls approaches ever closer to 200,00 people. We've become (gasp!) a city. Oh, we're not Minneapolis or Chicago, but for most of us who've lived here, or in the area, for years and years, we pretty much have it all. The good and the maybe not so good.

Yep, no question about it, Sioux Falls has never grown this fast.

Wait a minute. Hold on there cowboy.

It's true we have great, continued growth. Why, from 2000 to 2010 we grew an impressive 24.1%! Geez, that has to be the best ever!

No, no it's not. Not even close.

There was a decade, a ten year period, where Sioux Falls, South Dakota USA grew... wait for it... wait for it...


No, that's not a misprint. 370.7%.

My goodness, what the heck happened?? Did Sioux Falls suddenly become a paradise destination? Did the weather suddenly become Honolulu on the Great Plains? Was Sioux Falls the spot where newlyweds finally found their dream?

Well, no. Actually that was a part of it. Sioux Falls was where newlyweds could come and get a quick divorce.

Oh, and the railroad showed up.

You see the decade we're talking about, the decade of the 'Population Boom' of 370.7%, was the 1880's when Sioux Falls went from a robust (at the time) 2,162 in 1880 to an amazing 10,177 in 1890.

First: the railroad. If you think being at the intersection of Interstates 29 & 90 is a huge plus for population in Sioux Falls, that's nothing compared to when the railroad came to town in the 'old days.' The railroad was the interstate, airplane & auto of the day. Everything depended on the railroad. The railroad was, well, life.

And the 'quick divorce' thing? Well, thanks to some new 1880's laws South Dakota made it quick and easy to get a divorce. The quickest in the nation. So if you wanted to get out of that 'forever' union in a hurry, welcome to South Dakota in general and Sioux Falls specifically.

The nation (and Sioux Falls) went through a sever economic depression in the 1890's and that slowed down things... a lot. In the 1890's Sioux Falls grew by less than 1%. They, in effect, took a breather from growth.

But the 20th century (and now 21st) has been good for the greatest city in the nation, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and continues to be good.

So as we head to 200,000 folks and beyond, and while we may experience some of those 'growing pains', just think about the growing pains your ancestor's went through in the 1880's...when this little Prairie Town grew by over 370% in ten short years!

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