Mitchell is a city in and the county seat of Davison County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 15,254 at the 2010 census. Mitchell was incorporated in 1881. It was named for Milwaukee banker Alexander Mitchell, President of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad (Milwaukee Road). Mitchell is the principal city of the Mitchell Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Davison and Hansoncounties.
Mitchell is located at 43°42′50″N 98°1′35″W (43.713896, -98.026282), on the James River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.14 square miles (31.44 km2), of which, 11.14 square miles (28.85 km2) is land and 1.00 square mile (2.59 km2) is water. Mitchell has been assigned the ZIP code 57301 and the FIPS place code 43100.
As of the census of 2010, there were 15,254 people, 6,696 households, and 3,641 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,369.3 inhabitants per square mile (528.7 /km2). There were 7,120 housing units at an average density of 639.1 per square mile (246.8 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.6% White, 0.5% African American, 3.0% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.
There were 6,696 households of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.6% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.88.
The median age in the city was 36.8 years. 22.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.8% were from 25 to 44; 23.9% were from 45 to 64; and 18.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.
Mitchell has a Humid continental climate, like much of the Midwestern United States, with cold, harsh, sometimes snowy winters, and hot, sometimes humid summers. Average daytime summer temperatures range from 86°F (30°C) during the day, and 62°F (16°C) during the night, and winter daytime temperatures average 26°F (-3°C) during the day, and 4°F ( -15°C) during the night. Most of the precipitation falls during the summer months, the wettest month being June, with an average of 3.52 inches (89.4mm) of rain, and the driest month is January, with only 0.47 inches (11.9mm) of rain. Mitchell is located in Tornado Alley, so thunderstorms, often spawning tornadoes, can be expected.
Mitchell is home of the Corn Palace. The Corn Palace is decorated with several colors of dried corn and grains, creating murals. The theme of the external murals is changed yearly at fall harvest; internal murals are changed approximately every ten years. The building itself is used for several purposes including a basketball arena, the local high school prom, trade shows, staged entertainment, and the Shriner's Circus.
Mitchell is also the home of the Dakota Discovery Museum, whose mission is to present and preserve the history of the prairie and the people who settled it. The museum covers the time period from 1600, when the Native Americans were still largely undiscovered, to 1939, the end of the Great Depression. The museum holds one of the most complete and pristine collections of American Indian quill and bead-works. The Dakota Discovery Museum also features artists such as Harvey Dunn, James Earle Fraser, Charles Hargens and Oscar Howe. In the village area behind the main building are four authentic historical buildings, including an 1885 one-room school house and the fully furnished 1886 Victorian-Italianate home of the co-founder of the Corn Palace, Louis Beckwith. Two new features of the museum are Discovery Land, a hands-on activity area for children ages five to ten, and the Heritage Gardens Project, which brings indigenous plants to the gardens surrounding the museum and historical buildings.
The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, an archaeological site where scientists are excavating a Native American village, is another attraction in the city. The site, near Lake Mitchell, is believed to have been occupied by ancestors of the present-day Mandan, who now reside in North Dakota. The excavation is unique in that it is enclosed by an Archeodome, a climate-controlled building built over the site, which allows scientists to continue their excavation work year-round.
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