From the Beginning
Eureka... In the beginning
In 1887, the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railway company extended the James River division of their system north and south from Roscoe. In June of that year, grading discontinued eight miles north of the present site of Hillsview, and it was understood a terminal station would be established near the end of the grade.
A little town was started on the School Section 36, to the east of the present site of the City of Eureka. This town was known as St. Petersburg. At that time, one home was erected west of the newly-laid track. The home was occupied by A.G. Bernard, who homesteaded the southwest quarter of Section 35, Township 127, North Range 73. Mr. Bernard proved up title on his homestead, then conveyed the same to the Milwaukee Land Co., who platted the land as an original town site, and gave it the name "Eureka."
The first train arrived in Eureka on July 27, 1887, but the original plat of the city was not platted until October 3, 1887. The first town site agent, Charles Pfeffer, was besieged daily by people who wanted lots for homes and businesses; and thus came the demise of St. Petersburg.
Along with the start of a new town came the immigration of farmers to till the soil, and the area was besieged by farmers of German-Russian descent who were unable to find land in the southern part of South Dakota.
With the farmers came prosperity. For 15 years, 1887-1902, Eureka was known as the greatest primary wheat market of the world. There were as many as 32 grain buying concerns kept buys day and night, storing and shipping wheat which had been brought in by horses or oxen. In 1892, there were 3,300 freight-car loads of wheat shipped from Eureka; 42 elevators in the town handled over 4 million bushels a year, making it Milwaukee's most profitable station.
Though the railroad expanded north in 1902, ending Eureka's wheat boom, from 1937 to 1950, the town continued to find itself featured in national papers and magazines, for its wheat production and, later, for the unique food found in Eureka, with reporters travelling from New York and Florida to experience life in the former wheat capital of the United States.
In 2000, Eureka lobbied to have the sweet treat, Kuchen, named the South Dakota state dessert. Since then, the town has begun to grow again, with a new hospital opening in 2019 and several other businesses newly opened.
These days, Eureka residents and visitors enjoy summers by the lake and at the golf course. The campground, community park, and baseball fields are also a big attraction. The fall season brings Schmeckfest, harvest, pheasant and deer hunters, as well as the beginning of school in a building recently expanded. Not only does Eureka school supply one of the best K-12 educations in South Dakota, it also boasts great sports programs for Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field, Wrestling, and Golf.
Winter finds most residents tucked cozily in their homes - when they're not out enjoying ice fishing, snowmobiling, or other winter activities. In the spring, the geese flock through and it's time to plant again.