Trail of Governors statue unveiling postponed

PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – The Trail of Governors statue unveiling ceremony planned for next month (June 12) in Pierre has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foundation Board planned to unveil life-size bronze statues honoring Govs. Charles Sheldon (2nd), Coe Crawford (6th) and Carl Gunderson (11th).

Foundation board president Rick Jensen says they’ll announce a new date once the board believes it’s safe to gather and celebrate. He says the Foundation is still looking for sponsorships for this year’s statues. Find more information and a link to donate any amount at

Those with questions can contact Jensen by email or by phone 605-454-0689. The South Dakota Community Foundation oversees the foundation’s finances. All donations are tax-deductible.

Governor Biographic Sketches for 2020 Statues:

Gov. Charles Sheldon served as South Dakota’s governor from 1893 until 1897. He was a Union soldier during the Civil War. He settled near Pierpont when he and his wife first arrived in Dakota Territory, and he later passed away from pneumonia at the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood while there on a speaking tour. Sheldon’s biggest challenge as governor was dealing with the theft of the state’s treasury by former State Treasurer W.W. Taylor, discovered right after Sheldon took office. The new governor also had to deal with the Panic of 1893 which led to falling commodity prices and a weak farm economy.

Gov. Coe Crawford came to Dakota Territory as a new attorney, practicing in Pierre where he served as Hughes County states’ attorney. He was elected the state’s attorney general and led the quest to find former State Treasurer W.W. Taylor, who had fled to Latin America with the state’s finances. He moved to Huron to become general counsel for Chicago and North Western Railroad before running for governor. After being elected and serving as governor from 1907 to 1909, Crawford was elected to the U.S. Senate. He later returned to Huron where he continued practicing law. Crawford’s favorite sport of boxing is unique among governors.

Gov. Carl Gunderson was born in a log cabin on his family’s homestead near Vermillion, and was the first University of South Dakota graduate to be elected governor. Gunderson was a civil engineer and a wheat farmer in Clay County. He served several terms in the State Senate before moving to Mitchell, and was later elected lieutenant governor and then governor. At the age of 60, he is the oldest when-elected governor in state history, serving from 1925 to 1927. Gunderson was a fiscally conservative leader. He moved back to Mitchell after leaving office, and is buried at Vermillion’s Bluff View Cemetery, built on his family’s homestead.