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Lemmon is home to the world’s largest petrified wood park. Bonus: there’s no admission fee to see it.

Lemmon native John Lopez has sculptures living across South Dakota and worldwide.

Historic real-life mountain man Hugh Glass was attacked by a bear near Lemmon and is memorialized in a sculpture by Lopez.

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More stories on Lemmon

Petrified Giant

An ancient petrified tree in Perkins County may be one of the largest ever discovered and may eventually tell us more about what kind of landscape existed here in the past. “My father and a friend of his discovered it while herding sheep back in the 1930s,” recalls retired local rancher Clyde Jesfjeld. “They decided that it had to be a tree because of the way it appeared.”

The Ultimate Survivor

On the last weekend in August, Lemmon-based artist John Lopez unveiled a new sculpture commemorating Hugh Glass, close to the spot where the legendary pioneer nearly lost his battle with an angry grizzly bear. The sculpture — depicting the pivotal moment in the Glass legend — comes at a time of renewed interest in his story.

Not Just Ranches and Rodeo

As the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad snaked west, Lemmon bought several thousand acres of land along the proposed route, hoping to cash in on a new town site. His first choice was about four miles east of the present-day town, but it sat in North Dakota, then a dry state. “In order to make Lemmon a real boom town, the saloon with its attendant evils would have to be tolerated,” he later wrote. The town ended up on the South Dakota side.

Lemmon: Our Cowboy Capital

If you designed a town as a tribute to the American cowboy it would look like Lemmon. The little city straddling the border of the two Dakotas has just 1,200 citizens but it seems 10 times that size on days when there’s a rodeo or a cattle auction. Even on a slow day, Lemmon looks like a cowboy capital — though nobody there would claim the title because real cowboys don’t brag.

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