Two events in the 1870s in eastern Minnehaha County, Dakota Territory, provided the stimulus leading to the beginning of the town of Garretson. The first was the founding of the now-vanished village of Palisade, often referred to as Garretson's "Mother City". Located high above Split Rock Creek two miles south of this marker, Palisade began when C. W. Patten built a flour mill there in the early 1870's. The second event was the migration into nearby townships of scores of pioneer families who arrived in oxen-or horse-drawn covered wagons. These newcomers claimed homesteads and provided an immediate customer base for new businesses in Palisade. (Continued from other side)
In 1889 the Sioux City and Great Northern Railroad planned to join its tracks with the Willmar and Sioux Falls Railway at the village of Sherman a few miles north of this marker. However, Sioux City investors used their influence to shift the railroad junction to a site only two miles north of Palisade. One of the investors, A.S. Garretson, then offered to furnish commercial lots and to pay the cost of moving mercantile buildings from Palisade to the new junction location. Among those taking advantage of his offer were a druggist, doctor, barber, and owners of a general store, lumber yard, hardware and implement store, dray line, grocery store, and bank. The headlong removal of business places from Palisade doomed the village and in turn created the town of Garretson, namesake of the shrewd promoter and financier.
A quartzite stone quarry opened in the early 1890's and provided material for several impressive Garretson buildings, including two banks, an opera house, and general and department stores. By 1915 city fathers boasted that a cigar factory and the elegant Grand Hotel were among the 63 businesses in Garretson.
Continuing to attract residents and tourists today are three parks that feature Sioux quartzite outcroppings. Split Rock Park began as a Works Project Administration project in the 1930's. Three attractive quartzite structures were constructed: a dam, a bathhouse, and a picturesque bridge. Devil's Gulch Park is the site of both prehistoric and historic tales and legends. Dakota Indians called the quartzite canyon "Spirit Canyon" and told of an ancient conflict between a trouble-making warrior and a brave from the spirit world. Many years later the 1876 getaway by bank robbers Jesse and Frank James from pursuing lawmen became a celebrated tale. Palisades State Park borders the site of former Palisade village and has become a picnic and camping mecca.
Now in its second century, the town of Garretson is a vibrant community with a promising future and a second economy and is a regional tourist destination.