About Pennington County
Extending from the Black Hills on the Wyoming border eastward into the prairie, Pennington County is home to both Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Badlands National Park. Forests of pine, aspen, spruce and birch trees cover the Black Hills, broken by jagged pinnacles of granite. In many areas, a litter of white quartz rock fragments litter the ground. The prairies are covered by green grass, and stretch to the horizon.
The county was created in 1875 during the gold rush, and was named after the John. L. Pennington, who was at that time the governor of the Dakota Territory. As of the 2000 census, 88,565 people lived in the 2,776 square miles. Rapid City is the county seat and the main population center.
The sculpting of Mount Rushmore in the 1940s established tourism as the leading industry in Pennington County. Ellsworth Air Force Base is also a major influence on the economy, as are ranching and farming.