Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



This thesis is a systematic geographic analysis of Custer State Park. Because Custer State Park has definite geopolitical boundaries. this study is limited to that particular political region in the Black Hills. The systematic study of this area is not limited to one criterion such as location, climate or human occupance. Rather, it incorporates the sum total of all the criteria included in a traditional regional study. Custer State Park is located in the southern portion of the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Described by numerous authors as an "is land of green in a vast sea of grass," the Black Hills lie roughly between 43 and 45 degrees north latitude and 103 to 104 degrees west longitude and comprise an area about 60 miles in width and 100 miles in length, or approximately 20,600 square miles. About two-thirds of the Black Hills lie in South Dakota; the remaining one-third is in Wyoming. (Figure 2) Hundreds of books and articles have been written about the Black Hills. Many of these works may briefly give mention to certain general aspects of Custer State Park, but very few of them mention any specific, up-to-date details of the park. The last major geographic work about Custer State Park was compiled by the Federal Writer's Project in 1938. A much more general study of the park was later written by Tom Baskette Jr. and Jerry Sanders in l977. It is because of this lack of current information about Custer State Park that the author chose the park as a thesis topic. The last major geographic study of South Dakota was done by Stephen Sargent Visher in 1917. It is because of this that the Department of Geography has set as a goal the completion of a set of master's theses updating the geographic knowledge of the state. The author hopes that this thesis brings the science of geography in South Dakota into a more modern time frame. The following study of Custer State Park was undertaken using an outline that divides the park's attributes into several categories. Chapter 2 deals with the physical environment of the park. Chapter 3 concerns itself with the exploration and settlement of the Black Hills and the later creation of Custer State Park. Chapter 4 is about the cultural environment of Custer State Park. Chapter 5 summarizes this study's findings and takes a look at the future of Custer State Park.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Custer State Park (S.D.) -- Aerial exploration



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University