Vermillion, South Dakota

Vermillion, South Dakota

Downtown Vermillion

Location in Clay County and the state of South Dakota

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 42°46′52″N 96°55′37″W / 42.78111°N 96.92694°W / 42.78111; -96.92694Coordinates: 42°46′52″N 96°55′37″W / 42.78111°N 96.92694°W / 42.78111; -96.92694
Country United States
State South Dakota
County Clay
Incorporated 1877[1]
  Mayor John (Jack) Powell
  Total 4.03 sq mi (10.44 km2)
  Land 4.03 sq mi (10.44 km2)
  Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,224 ft (373 m)
Population (2010)[3]
  Total 10,571
  Estimate (2015)[4] 10,738
  Density 2,623.1/sq mi (1,012.8/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 57069
Area code(s) 605
FIPS code 46-66700
GNIS feature ID 1258745[5]
Website City of Vermillion

Vermillion (Lakota: 'Waséoyuze';[6] "The Place Where Vermilion is Obtained") is a city in and the county seat of Clay County,[7] in the southeastern corner of the State of South Dakota, and the eleventh largest city in the state. According to the 2010 Census, the population was 10,571. Vermillion lies atop a bluff near the Missouri River.

The area has been home to various Native American tribes for centuries. French fur traders first visited in the late 18th century. Vermillion was founded in 1859 and incorporated in 1873. The name refers to the Lakota name: wa sa wak pa'la (red stream).

Home to the University of South Dakota, Vermillion has a mixed academic and rural character: The university is a major academic institution for the state, boasting the state's only law and medical schools, and the state's only AACSB accredited business school. Major farm products include corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.


Lewis and Clark camped at the mouth of the Vermillion River near the present-day town on August 24, 1804. The previous day, they had killed their first bison; and the following day, they climbed Spirit Mound, according to Clark's journal.

In May 1843, John James Audubon visited the Vermillion ravine to view the bird life. The town was considered for the location of South Dakota's first mental institution (now the Human Services Center) in 1873, although the hospital was eventually located in nearby Yankton.

The original town was entirely located below the bluffs on the banks of the Missouri River, and three-quarters of the town was washed away in the Great Flood of 1881.

Presidential candidates William Jennings Bryan visited and spoke in Vermillion on September 28, 1908, and William Howard Taft on the next day.

John Philip Sousa conducted the Sousa Band on October 26, 1926, at the facility that became known as Slagle Auditorium in 1929.[8]

On March 24, 1967, Thomas James White Hawk and William Stands murdered the Vermillion jeweler James Yeado and raped his wife.[9]

Donald Opperman's car was parked illegally on the streets on December 10, 1973, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court case South Dakota v. Opperman, decided March 29, 1976.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.03 square miles (10.44 km2), all land.[2]

The elevation of the city is 1,221 feet (372 m).


Climate data for Vermillion, SD
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 31
Daily mean °F (°C) 21
Average low °F (°C) 11
Record low °F (°C) −30
Source: [10]


Vermillion operates under the council-manager form of government. Vermillion's governing body is made up of nine members. Eight City Council members are elected from four wards, with two members representing each ward. The Mayor is elected at-large and presides over City Council meetings. The mayor may vote on all matters coming before the governing body. With the consent of the City Council, the Mayor appoints individuals to serve on the Library Board and Planning Commission. The Library Board oversees the operations of the Vermillion Public Library and appoints a Library Director. All services and programs provided by the library are overseen by the board. The Planning Commission is charged with overseeing the long-range planning of the community, including zoning issues, subdivisions and formulation of the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission serves a vital role in recommending major policy changes to the governing body for the development of the community.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201510,738[11]1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
2015 Estimate[4]
1888 advertisement

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 10,571 people, 3,811 households, and 1,692 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,623.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,012.8/km2). There were 4,043 housing units at an average density of 1,003.2 per square mile (387.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.6% White, 1.7% African American, 3.6% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.4% of the population.

There were 3,811 households of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.8% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 55.6% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.90.

The median age in the city was 23.4 years. 15.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 41.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.7% were from 25 to 44; 14.4% were from 45 to 64; and 8.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,765 people, 3,647 households, and 1,801 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,549.3 people per square mile (984.4/km²). There were 3,967 housing units at an average density of 1,035.6 per square mile (399.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.95% White, 1.29% African American, 3.37% Native American, 2.46% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. 1.07% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,647 households out of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.5% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.6% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.5% under the age of 18, 36.2% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 13.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.

As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $24,095, and the median income for a family was $40,109. Males had a median income of $28,180 versus $20,975 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,909. 26.2% of the population and 16.2% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 19.0% are under the age of 18 and 14.8% are 65 or older.

For the population 25 years and over, 90.7% have a high school education or higher; 45.4% have a bachelor's degree or higher; and 21.2% have a graduate or professional degree.

For ancestries, 36% claim German ancestry; 14.2% Norwegian; 13.4% Irish; 6.6% English; 5.5% Dutch; and 4% Swedish.


Vermillion contains the following churches:

Major employers[14]

Company Employees (est.) Location
Dakota Care Center of Vermillion 90 125 S Walker St
Cafe Brule 70 24 W. Main St
Eagle Creek Software Services 50 1215 W. Cherry St
Hy-Vee 135 525 W Cherry St
Polaris Industries 120 1997 Polaris Pkwy
Sanford Health Network 233 20 S Plum St
Sesdac Inc 130 1314 E Cherry St
South Dakota Department of Military & Veterans Affairs 96 PO Box B434
University of South Dakota 800 414 E Clark St
Vermillion City 157 25 Center St
Vermillion School Dist 13-1 (Austin Elementary School) 225 17 Prospect St
Vermillion School Dist 13-1 90 422 Princeton St
Walmart 100 1207 Princeton St


Prentis Park includes two swimming pools: one kids pool, and one full size with a waterslide and diving boards. There is also a variety of playground equipment and wide open green space. Additionally the park features a snack bar (next to the pool area), several basketball hoops, and a disc golf course. It also contains a baseball diamond which is the home of the Vermillion Red Sox, of the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association. Along with Prentis Park, the city maintains and owns Lion's Park, Barstow Park, and Cotton Park. The city also boasts a bike trail along the quiet Vermillion River. The Bluffs Golf Course[15] is also owned and operated by the City of Vermillion. The Bluffs is an 18-hole championship golf course that overlooks the bluffs in Vermillion.


The University of South Dakota's National Music Museum (NMM) is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as "A Landmark of American Music" by the National Music Council. It includes more than 15,000 American, European, and non-Western instruments.[16]

Notable people


AM radio

AM radio stations
FrequencyCall signNameFormatOwnerCity
570 kHz WNAX WNAX Radio 570 News/Talk Saga Communications Yankton
1450 kHz KYNT Yankton's Home Team Soft Adult Contemporary Riverfront Broadcasting LLC Yankton
1570 kHz KVTK 1570 "The Ticket" Sports Talk 5 Star Communications Vermillion

FM radio

FM radio stations
FrequencyCall signNameFormatOwnerTarget city/marketCity of license
89.7 MHz KUSD South Dakota Public Broadcasting NPR SD Board of Directors for Educational Telecommunications Yankton/Vermillion Vermillion
91.1 MHz KAOR Core 91.1 Alternative The University of South Dakota Yankton/Vermillion Vermillion
93.1 MHz KKYA KK93 Country Riverfront Broadcasting LLC Yankton/Vermillion Yankton
94.3 MHz KDAM The Dam Mainstream Rock Riverfront Broadcasting LLC Yankton/Vermillion Hartington
104.1 MHz WNAX-FM The Wolf 104.1 Country Saga Communications Yankton/Vermillion Yankton
106.3 MHz KVHT Classic Hits 106.3 Classic Hits 5 Star Communications Yankton/Vermillion Vermillion

Sister city

Ratingen, Germany is the sister city of Vermillion.


  1. "SD Towns" (PDF). South Dakota State Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
  2. 1 2 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  3. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  4. 1 2 "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  5. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. Ullrich, Jan F. (2014). New Lakota Dictionary (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Lakota Language Consortium. ISBN 978-0-9761082-9-0.
  7. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. Paul Edmund Bierley, The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), p. 190.
  9. Gerald Vizenor, "Thomas James White Hawk: Murder on Good Friday," and "Commutation of Death", in Tribal Scenes and Ceremonies, Minneapolis: Nodin Press, c. 1976.
  10. "Monthly Averages for Vermillion, SD". The Weather Channel. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  11. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  12. United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  13. "Find a Meetinghouse". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015. Search for "Vermillion, SD"
  14. Dun & Bradstreet's Million Dollar Database (2010)
  16. "University of South Dakota". National Music Museum. University of South Dakota. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
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