Have you ever wondered: What is the structure at the top of the hill by the State Penitentiary?

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The hill near the top of Cliff Avenue may be one of the best places to view the city, but it's also home to a historical site. It's called the Pioneer Memorial. You may have seen it driving on Cliff Avenue in Sioux Falls. From far away, it just looks like a lone structure on top of a hill. But it's a tower to honor those who settled in Sioux Falls.

"There was a lot of talk about how should we do this? Should we put up trees first and then the monument?" Jim Carlson said, who is the past president of the Minnehaha County Historical Society. "And then they did say that we should make it so that we don't have to have somebody there watching it all the time."

It wasn't always for the pioneers of the city though. An original sketch looked much different, and it was only supposed to be for Judge Joseph Amidon.

"He was up here cutting hay in August, and I think he probably surprised the Indians. But they killed him and his son," Carlson said.

That was the beginning of the Indian uprising in 1862. The Minnehaha County Historical Society wanted to honor Judge Amidon in the early 1900s with a structure.

"What happened was The Depression happened," Carlson said. "So they kind of put it off until about 1939, and they started thinking about it again."

But World War II started and it got put off again. By the time it was built in 1949, society members wanted to honor all of the pioneers of Sioux Falls.

"Just honor the hardships that they went through," said Carlson. "It's simple. It's about 25 foot high."

Now, there's a plaque with Judge Amidon's story on it and the Pioneer Memorial sits right behind it. Not much traffic goes through that area now because it's a dead end. But it used to be part of Highway 77, which was the road to Dell Rapids.

If you have any questions, email Vanessa Gomez at vgomez@ksfy.com.