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Box Elder, home to Ellsworth Air Force Base, is a growing residential community for both military and civilian families. It is the 12th largest city in South Dakota with a population slightly over 10,000 people. It’s also the third fastest-growing city in South Dakota.
Founded in 1907 as a whistle stop on the Chicago & North Western Railroad line, Box Elder took on an important new role in 1941 as home to the Rapid City Army Air Base. During World War II, the base was a training facility B-17 bomber crews. It later served in a variety of roles. In 1953, it was named renamed in honor of Brig. Gen. Richard Ellsworth, who died in a crash over Newfoundland.
During the Cold War, Ellsworth was a missile and bomber base, hosting a missile wing and a fleet of B-52 bombers. In 1987, the B-1B Lancer bombers came to Ellsworth. Today, Ellsworth has 28 of the sleek B-1s. In addition, the base’s Air Force Financial Services Center provides support to nearly 400,000 Air Force personnel at 82 locations in the U.S. and overseas.
Ellsworth’s total impact on the South Dakota economy is estimated at $331 million. Also, Box Elder is fast becoming the go-to destination for young families seeking affordable housing. Between 2010 and 2013, the city issued more than $71 million in building permits, mostly for single-family homes. We continue to grow with 7 different housing areas being built in.
On March 27, 2019, Ellsworth AFB was selected as the home to the B-21 Formal Training Unit and will be the first base to receive an operational squadron of B-21 Raider bombers. This is huge for Box Elder, western SD and the state. We look forward to the integration of this very important new mission.
- Population Estimate 2018: 9,800
- Climate: Average Temperatures: Winter – 28 degrees, Summer – 87 degrees.
- Zip Code: 57719
- Owner Occupied Housing Unit Rate, 2014-2018: 43.5%
- Median Value of Owner Occupied Housing Units, 2014-2018: $157,000
- Median Household Income (In 2018 Dollars) 2014-2018: $52,793