Far up in north central South Dakota is a small town named Eureka.
For 15 years, from 1887 to 1902, this "end of track" town was the largest primary wheat market in the world, claim historians. In 1897 alone, two thirds of the world's wheat crop entering the commercial market was shipped from Eureka.
(A primary wheat market is the first place wheat changes hands after it leaves the farmer's fields.)
Picture over 165 trains of 20 cars each being loaded at one small town. That number of boxcars was needed in Eureka during the $2 million wheat shipping year of 1892.
That's why the Eureka depot during October and November 1892 could surpass the earnings of any other station on the entire Milwaukee system by reaching $100,000 each month.
The bonanza was created by several factors--the end-of-track location for 15 years, the richness of the new land, and the hard work of the German-Russian farmers settling the prairie.
It was hard work. The wheat was sacked, brought from farms as far as 75 miles away to Eureka, carried into one of the elevators or storage houses of 32 commission houses, and dumped into the hoppers by hand. Day and night, some 200 employees of the grain buyers were needed to keep up with the influx of wagons.
In 1902 the railroad moved north, and new towns along the track were more convenient to many farmers. The wheat boom years ended for Eureka.
As a tribute to the town and to the farmers whose grain never needed to be tested for weight or dockage and was known to be number one quality, the breeders at the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station have named this new hard red spring wheat "Eureka."
Reprinted with permission of Agricultural Experiment Station, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota.