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Governor's Column: Three More Trail of Governors Statues
By: Dennis Daugaard, Governor - 06/13/2018

June is a beautiful time to visit our Capital City. The flowers at the State Capitol are in bloom, the sun shines brightly on the Fighting Stallions and the veterans memorials, and fishing and sport boats flock to the Missouri River.

On June 15, Pierre will gain a few more points of interest, as the Trail of Governors unveils three new statues. The Trail of Governors project combines art and history, placing life-sized bronze statues of every former South Dakota governor throughout the Capital City, on a trail that connects the Capitol grounds with the downtown business district. Nineteen statues are already in place.

The three new statues to be unveiled this year are William H. McMaster, M.Q. Sharpe and Ralph Herseth.

William H. McMaster was a small-town banker in Gayville, and then a state legislator from Yankton. He served as Gov. Peter Norbeck's lieutenant governor and then followed Norbeck into the Governor's Office in 1920. A progressive, McMaster memorably fought high gasoline prices by selling gasoline from state highway shops at two cents above wholesale. He went on the serve in the U.S. Senate.

M.Q. Sharpe was an attorney from Kennebec. As attorney general, he investigated corruption and mismanagement in a state-run farm loan program. During the Bushfield administration, Sharpe was the state's representative to the Missouri River States Committee and as governor from 1943 to 1947, Sharpe continued that effort, leading the negotiation of the Pick-Sloan Plan that built four Missouri River dams in South Dakota.

Ralph Herseth was a farmer from Houghton. He was elected governor in 1958 amidst unrest over property tax valuations. Herseth created a pension plan for the state's teachers and pushed for water development projects. He started a legacy of public service that continued with his wife, Secretary of State Lorna Herseth; their son, longtime legislator Lars Herseth; and their granddaughter, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who spent seven years in the U.S. House and is now the president of Augustana University.

The public is invited to the State Capitol rotunda at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 15, to see the unveiling of statues of McMaster, Sharpe and Herseth. Then, on Saturday morning, the inaugural "Run with the Govs" event will be held -- an opportunity to run or walk a 4-mile route that includes every Trail of Governors statue. You will be able to actually run with at least one former governor -- I know former Gov. Frank Farrar, at a youthful 89 years old, plans to participate. Search online for "Run with the Govs" to learn more.

Whether it's a drive, walk, or run, the Trail of Governors is a great way to experience our Capital City and learn a little bit about South Dakota history. I encourage you to check it out next time you come to Pierre.

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