Watertown is a city in and the county seat of Codington County, South Dakota, United States. Watertown is home to the Redlin Art Center which houses many of the original art works produced by Terry Redlin, one of America's most popular wildlife artists. Watertown is located between Pelican Lake and Lake Kampeska, from which Redlin derived inspiration for his artwork.
The population was 22,655 at the 2020 census, making Watertown the fifth largest city in South Dakota. It is also the principal city of the Watertown Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Codington and Hamlin counties. Watertown also is home to the Bramble Park Zoo. Watertown's residential real estate is considered the most expensive in South Dakota for cities of its size; the median price for a home in Watertown is approximately $200,000.
Watertown is located at 44°54′12″N 97°7′14″W (44.903433, -97.120437), along the Big Sioux River.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.04 square miles (64.85 km2), of which 17.45 square miles (45.20 km2) is land and 7.59 square miles (19.66 km2) is water. Watertown sits on the Big Sioux River and two major lakes, Pelican Lake and Lake Kampeska. Most of Watertown also sits upon a short plateau. The elevation at Watertown Regional Airport is 1,745 feet.
Watertown has been assigned the ZIP code 57201 and the FIPS place code 69300.
Watertown was founded in 1879 as a rail terminus when the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad reactivated part of a line it had constructed to Lake Kampeska. Despite the prominence of rivers and lakes in the area, the city was named after Watertown, New York, the hometown of brothers John E. Kemp and Oscar P. Kemp, two of the city's founders. The town's name was originally planned to be named Kampeska.
During the 1880s, Watertown prospered as a transportation hub after the railroads had been extended farther west. Along with several other cities, Watertown had been a candidate as capital of the new state of South Dakota, although it lost out to the more centrally located Pierre. The city's current newspaper, the Watertown Public Opinion, began publishing in 1887.
In the mid-20th century, Interstate 29 was constructed through eastern South Dakota. The route included a slight bend to bring the interstate closer to Watertown. The interstate's construction has been a major economic benefit to the larger communities along its route, including Watertown.
Famous Peoples From Watertown South Dakota
John Julian Hamre
(born July 3, 1950) is a specialist in international studies, a former Washington government official and President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a position he has held with that think tank since 2000.
Hamre is the son of Melvin Sanders and Ruth Lucile (Larson) Hamre. He attended primary and secondary school in Clark, South Dakota, graduating from the Clark Public High School in May 1968. He earned a B.A. (with high distinction) in political science and economics from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (1972). The following year he was a Rockefeller Fellow at Harvard Divinity School. He earned an M.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1978) with distinction from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His doctoral thesis was entitled Congressional Dissent and American Foreign Policy: Constitutional War-Making in the Vietnam Years.