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Published November 20, 2009, 10:20 AM

Highway named for rancher who built buffalo herd

PIERRE — Another stretch of South Dakota highway is getting a special name from our state’s past.
A century ago, Stanley County rancher Scotty Philip had the foresight to preserve some of the last American bison remaining on the plains.

By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic

PIERRE — Another stretch of South Dakota highway is getting a special name from our state’s past.

A century ago, Stanley County rancher Scotty Philip had the foresight to preserve some of the last American bison remaining on the plains.

Now some folks want to preserve for the public the significance of what he accomplished.

The state Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to designate U.S. 14 between Philip and Fort Pierre as James “Scotty” Philip Highway. Several green signs will be erected roadside along the route.

The request came from Mary Burnett, of Philip. She is co-chairperson of the Philip Horizons organization. In her official letter, she described Scotty Philip as one of South Dakota’s treasures and said the community, which is the Haakon County seat, is named for him.

“Through his foresight in saving the buffalo from extinction, he built his herd to nearly one thousand head and many of the nation’s parks, including Custer State Park, have their herd origins from Scotty Philip stock,” she wrote.

She added, “Scotty Philip was not only a notable part of our history. He is South Dakota nobility. He will forever be remembered as ‘The Buffalo King.’ ”

The request was supported by Philip Mayor John Hart and Fort Pierre Mayor Sam Tidball, who is a member of the Transportation Commission but wasn’t present for the meeting Thursday.

There was no opposition to the designation among the commission members.

“It’s historical,” said Chairman Jim Spies, of Watertown.

The only question was whether the sign’s design will provide the motoring public with enough information. As approved, the sign would be six feet wide and two feet deep bearing the phrase “James ‘Scotty’ Philip Highway” flanked on each side by a silhouette of a bison.

Commissioner Bob Benson, of Winner, said the name will be a mystery to many.

“I remembered the name, but not many people do,” he said.

The designation is at least the fifth made by the commission this year.

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