Brookings: The county seat of Brookings County was platted October 3-4, 1879, when the Northwestern Railroad reached here. Some of the early store buildings were moved overland from Fountain and Medary, which soon became ghost towns. In November 1879, after a stiff election contest with Aurora and Volga, Brookings became the county seat, replacing Medary, the seat since May 9, 1873. Residents of Brookings voted on May 2, 1881 to incorporate the village. A city charter was approved on May 9, 1883.The winters of 1880-1881 and 1887-1888 saw storms, blizzards, and much snow: rail communications stopped for many weeks. The territorial legislature on February 21, 1881 established a college here and residents donated 80 acres of land for the purpose. Old Central was erected in 1884 and was used until 1962, when it and Old North were razed. Classes began with 35 students in September 1884. The first degree was granted in 1886.The growth of the town has been steady. The 1880 census showed 4965 in the county: 1890 showed 10,132 in the county, of whom 1518 lived in Brookings. By 1910 there were 14,178 in the county and 2971 in Brookings. The 1960 census showed 20,046 for the county, of whom 10,558 lived in Brookings. For several decades the county held sixth place in the state's population. The town, township and county were all named for Judge Wilmot Wood Brookings (1830-1905), a pioneer squatter governor and promoter of Dakota Territory. In early decades Brookings was known as "the city of trees" because of the residents' great interest in planting trees and beautifying the city.
Hillcrest Park: This is the original tree claim of Marthin Christianson (1847-1928) a native of Gjovik, Norway, who emigrated in 1850 with a large Colony, only 12 of whom survived the cholera plague. Trees were important to Christianson who came to Medary Township, D. T., from Coon Valley, Wisconsin, in 1878. As a potter', one who selected which trees were to be cut, at the age of 30 he and his companions became lost in the Wisconsin woods one night. Though the youngest logger in the group, he reasoned that moss grew only on the north side of trees and that a northerly direction would eventually lead them to the clearing. Marthin led the group home. Trees were not always kind to him, for he was injured by one and later spent much of his savings to regain his health. Homesteading the quarter section north of here, Christianson later planted ash, cottonwood, and maple trees and claimed the site of the present Hillcrest Park. The Timber culture Act provided that a homesteader should plant and grow 10 acres of trees on any 160 acres of land, or 5 acres on any 80 acres, and at the end of 8 years claim the whole 160 or 80 acres of land. Christianson was one of the first settlers in what was to become the city limits of Brookings. Besides Hillcrest Park, Brookings has Pioneer Park on its west side and Sexauer Park on its northwest border. Conservation Park is located on highway 77 on the county's southern boundary, and Oakwood State Park is about 10 miles northwest of Volga. Lake Hendricks State Park is on the south shore of the lake in the northeast corner of Brookings County.