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The 79th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Is Happening August 2-11

Each summer, the town of Sturgis, South Dakota becomes bustling city of motorcycle bliss. Thousands…

  • July 30, 2019

Each summer, the town of Sturgis, South Dakota becomes bustling city of motorcycle bliss. Thousands of riders descend on Sturgis, bringing a wild assortment of bikes. Most of them are Harley-Davidsons, and many are customized.

The U.S. Census Bureau gives this history:

The city of Sturgis, SD, was founded in 1878 by merchants establishing businesses just beyond the gates of Fort Meade—a military outpost established to protect Black Hills mining settlements, particularly the area around Deadwood, SD.

Originally named “Scooptown” (a reference to the ease with which businesses “scooped” money from soldiers eager to spend their pay), the settlement was renamed to honor Fort Meade’s first commander, General Samuel D. Sturgis and his son James Garland Sturgis, who died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, alongside Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, June 25, 1876. Sturgis became the county seat of Meade County in 1889.

More recently, the city has become internationally famous for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The annual rally in Sturgis got its start in 1938 when local Indian Motorcycle dealership owner Clarence “Pappy” Hoel and eight other motorcyclists raced one another in front of a small group of spectators on August 14.

Except for a brief hiatus during World War II, it attracted a growing number of motorcycle enthusiasts as the rally added races, hill climbs, and concerts.

Today, the South Dakota Department of Transportation estimates that 500,000 or more people attend the seven-day event in Sturgis, making it one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world.