Woonsocket, South Dakota — The Town with the Beautiful Lake.

Population: 680

Woonsocket Website: http://www.woonsocketsd.com/

History of Woonsocket

The City of Woonsocket began in 1883 at the junction of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Saint Paul Railroads.  The superintendent of the railroad was C.H. Prior, and he named the new town Woonsocket, after his home town of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  Lake Prior, located in the center of town, is named after Mr. Prior.  The town of Woonsocket grew rapidly.  The first day lots were offered for sale, 50 lots were sold.  Woonsocket grew so fast that it was called “Boomstrucket.”

The population grew from 500 to 800 people in two months.  The first business establishment to be located in Woonsocket was a saloon.  Three days after the sale of the first lot, the first church services were held in a carpenter’s shed, which had recently been moved in.

Since Woonsocket was in the geographical area of artesian wells, there was an ample supply of good water.  For a piece of history on an artesian well that made Woonsocket world famous, click on this link:  Woonsocket Artesian Well.  Another advantage of Woonsocket was fertile land and good railroad facilities.

Woonsocket is the county seat of Sanborn County and is home to the Sanborn County Courthouse.

Looking ahead, it has, and shall always remain “Woonsocket, South Dakota — The Town with the Beautiful Lake.”


Hours of hunting can be spent around the countryside of Woonsocket.  Enjoy pheasant, deer, coyote, duck, and goose hunting.  There are many hunting lodges available in the area:


Thousands of melons are grown annually.  Many stands sell these melons.  Watermelon, muskmelon, squash, and pumpkin are raised in the area.  Some of the area producers include:

  • Larry Baysinger Melons ** 605-796-4525
  • Larson’s Melon Market – Charles Larson ** 605-796-4882
  • Larson Melons – Kelly & Paul Larson ** 605-796-4169 or 605-495-4188
  • Randy Larson ** 605-796-4088
  • Swenson Produce ** 605-796-4272


Community Center

The Community Center was built as a result of the team effort of community residents and the City of Woonsocket, and was funded by community donations.  The Center is used by the Senior Citizens  and is available for rent for community meetings and functions by calling 605-796-4476 (Owen).

City Parks

Woonsocket has two city parks.  One is located on the west side of Lake Prior by the pool and has swing sets, a firetruck slide, a big slide play set,  and a merry-go-round.  The other is located across from the baseball and softball field and has swing sets and slides.  The tennis courts are located here.  Picnics can be enjoyed at both.

Lake Prior

Lake Prior is a beautiful lake with an island connected to the main land by a bridge, a new filtrated concrete swimming area, triple flume water slide, a kiddy slide and new playground equipment. A new walkway was completed around the lake, and a gazebo sits on the island.  The lake is also home to a pair of beautiful swans.  Summers around the lake can be spent swimming, fishing, or using the recreational facilities that are available.  The annual 4th of July festivities are centered around the lake.

Woonsocket Camping

Woonsocket has camping spots with electrical outlets, water and sewer facilities.  They are located on the north side of Lake Prior.

Summer Recreation

Woonsocket offers a variety of summer activities including baseball, softball, golfing, and tennis.  Baseball is available for boys ages 6-12 and softball is offered to girls ages 6-16.  There are also men’s and women’s slow-pitch softball teams.

Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes are two lakes that are partially divided by a jutting peninsula.  Locals have built cabins along the east side of the lakes and spend most of their summer vacation enjoying their home-away-from-home.  At Twin Lakes you can enjoy camping, swimming, fishing, and boating.

James River

The James River is located nine miles east of Woonsocket near Forestburg.  Many days of fishing can be spent there.

Missouri River

The Missouri River at Ft. Thompson is approximately one hour west of Woonsocket.

On the Map