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Pennington County in South Dakota is a region with a rich and fascinating history. Known as the "Gateway to the Black Hills," this county has a unique relationship with the land and its people. Here are seven interesting facts about Pennington County history that you might not know:

1. The county was named after John L. Pennington, who was the fifth governor of Dakota Territory. Pennington served as governor from 1875 to 1878 and was a prominent advocate for the creation of South Dakota as a separate state.

2. Mount Rushmore, one of the most famous landmarks in the United States, is located in Pennington County. The monument was carved by Gutzon Borglum from 1927 to 1941 and features the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.

3. During World War II, Pennington County was home to the Rapid City Army Air Base, which was used to train B-17 and B-29 bomber crews. The base played a crucial role in the war effort and helped train thousands of pilots and crew members.

4. The Black Hills National Forest, which covers a significant portion of Pennington County, is home to the famous Needles Highway. This scenic drive features hairpin turns, narrow tunnels, and breathtaking views and is a popular tourist destination.

5. In 1972, a devastating flood hit Pennington County, causing widespread damage and loss of life. The Rapid City Flood, as it is known, killed 238 people and caused over $160 million in damage.

6. The county is also home to the Ellsworth Air Force Base, which was established in 1942 and remains an active military installation. The base is named after Brigadier General Richard Ellsworth, who was killed in a B-29 crash in 1953.

7. In recent years, Pennington County has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure-seekers. From hiking and camping in the Black Hills to fishing and kayaking on the Rapid Creek, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore the natural beauty of the area.

Overall, Pennington County has a rich and diverse history that continues to shape the region today. Whether you're interested in learning about its military heritage, its natural wonders, or its modern-day attractions, there is something for everyone to discover in this fascinating area of South Dakota.

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