Dakota Territory was created in 1861 and got its first big impetus in 1874 when gold was confirmed in the Black Hills by General Custer. A hundred years later on August 27, 1961, a gold rush was created by Joe Floyd’s KELO-LAND TV and Radio stations and the Dakota Territory Centennial Commission.

1439 capsules were planted in a 200’x 300’ gold field in Manchester, South Dakota. 1439 ‘prospectors’ armed with gold shovels, won in a summer-long contest conducted by the KELO-LAND Stations, entered the gold field to dig for $35,000 in cash and merchandise prizes. In a separate field, governors of the 50 states or their substitutes dug on behalf of charity for $3500.

Take a look at early announcements, details about the Gold Rush and contest rules.

Prizes were put on display in the lobby of KELOLAND studios. Many VIPs received a special commemorative Gold Rush shovel.

The grand prize was $10,000 cash. That prize would be valued at $102,000 in today’s economy(2023).

The day arrived and more than 150,000 people, the largest crowd in the state’s history at that time, witnessed the “Gold Rush of 1961”. Over 1,400 people with gold shovels came to dig for their prize. The rest came to watch the spectacle, the stage show, and enjoy the carnival.

Captain 11 made appearances on both days. He was joined by Yogi Bear, Cindy Bear, and Huckleberry Hound. Watch the show below. Before going to Manchester the crew entertained kids of all ages in Mitchell, SD.

The Gold Rush Revue was put together as an effort between KELO-LAND TV and the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour. Over 500 contestants competed through 11 Gold Rush Revue programs. The five finalists competed on stage at the Gold Rush. Watch the program below and see who won an all-expense paid trip to New York. The program is kicked off by The Original Midwest Promenaders.

Performances from a dancing horse, square dancers, and Gold Rush Review finalists the baton twirling Aughenbaugh Sisters (Marilyn and Rita), Audrey White, Spanish Tap Dancer(unknown name), Four Of A Kind men’s quartet, and the Dakota Cloggers Juniors. The first day concluded with the Centennial Square Dance Festival.