In Great Lakes Region, Pierre, pronounced PEER, is the State Capital, and the seat of Hughes County. It lies east of Rapid City on US 14 and US 83, on the east bank of the Missouri River near the Oahe Dam and Lake Oahe.
Pierre is named after Pierre Chouteau, an early fur trader. The first permanent settlers arrived in 1878, two years before arrival of the Chicago & North Western Railway. The town prospered as the railroad terminus and became the state capital in 1889. The Capitol was built in 1910.
Today Pierre, population 13,876, is the major trade center of South Dakota's central region. It enjoys a mixed economy derived from government, agriculture and outdoor recreational attractions. Other attractions include Capitol Lake, which is fed by a warm artesian well, making it a winter haven for migratory waterfowl; Flaming Fountain, whose natural gas content allows it to be lighted; and South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center, featuring the exhibit, "South Dakota Experience."