Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Charles F. Gritzner


Maps, rather than historical literature, form the primary data base employed in this study. Historical and current literature is used to supplement map interpretation. Techniques frequently employed in settlement geography are utilized to examine anomalies of site selection. While particular aspects of several theories and methodological procedures fundamental to settlement geography research are incorporated within this study, individual trait (e.g. house type) and typology studies are not an area of focus. Distribution and clustering of individual homesteads and towns, however, are discussed with respect to factors of location. Demography, population density, and carrying capacity are concepts that are alluded to, but they are not considered to be paramount determinants of primary site selection. Statistical analysis of settlement patterns utilizing location and central place theories, techniques commonly applied in explaining settlement distribution and patterns, also are not employed as a means of determining site selection factors. The focus of this study is on identification of primary elements of site selection not on explaining the influence of specific processes such as migration or agricultural patterns on settlement. A major difficulty in studying primary site location factors is that of distinguishing between factors and processes. Therefore, the focus of analysis is directed toward explaining why settlements are located at their specific sites, rather than why the settlements were established. Further, in this study, settlements and settlement site selection factors are examined in a general or generic manner, rather than focusing attention on individual sites and settlements. This study does not attempt to explain the rationale underlying the location of each community in the state. This study is limited to primary factors of site selection in what is now South Dakota. Primary factors are distinguished from secondary or supplemental determinants of site selection by function, for example, water, railroad, and mining, whereas secondary factors tend to involve processes and purpose such as migration and agriculture. Secondary factors such as economic components, land speculation and promotion, land use policies, and political elements are important for continuation of settlement processes but are not considered to be the main focus of analysis.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Land settlement patterns -- South Dakota

Land settlement -- South Dakota

South Dakota -- Geography

South Dakota -- History



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Geography Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright