History of Aberdeen

History of Aberdeen, South Dakota

Our Story Begins…

Named for Aberdeen, Scotland, the hometown of Milwaukee Railroad President Alexander Mitchell, this new city incorporated in 1881 quickly became known as the Hub City of the Dakotas, and the Brown County seat.

By 1886, a city map was published that showed nine different rail lines converging in Aberdeen from all directions, much like the spokes of a wheel converging at its hub. The combination of multi-directional railways and fertile farmland allowed Aberdeen to develop into a distribution hub for wholesale goods. The city grew rapidly and in 1890, 230 businesses called Aberdeen home. Today, Aberdeen’s economy has diversified and the number of businesses has grown to more than 1,500.

L. Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen from 1888 to 1891. Baum’s description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. While in Aberdeen he first owned Baum’s Bazaar, a variety store, and then later published the Saturday Pioneer. Baum’s influence is visible today throughout Storybook Land and the Land of Oz, as well as our past community slogan, “Write your story!”

More than 28,000 people proudly call Aberdeen home. Aberdeen is a hometown that hasn’t lost its warm and welcoming appeal. Families enjoy the wonderful schools, parks, and walking trails in this practically crime-free environment. Citizens appreciate their hometown for what it really is: a growing, progressive city offering Midwestern hospitality and opportunity!

Aberdeen loves to tell its story. You can learn more by visiting the Dacotah Prairie Museum; browsing articles on Aberdeen Magazine; and using resources for Genealogy Research provided by K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library and South Dakota State Library.


We’re Changing The Game.