According to the 2010 Census, four residents remain in Lily, South Dakota, a charming little town in Day County, about 45 miles southeast of Aberdeen. It’s in lakes country and it is a beautiful drive. There are a number of fading structures in Lily (so many in fact that I didn’t even shoot them all) including a former gas station, and a church that looks like it was converted to a shop or possibly a home.
Lily was a railroad town, served by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad until 1979. As with so many other high plains railroad communities, the end of the railroad sealed the town’s fate. Barring a boom of some type we can’t foresee, Lily is on its way to becoming a ghost town.
Hubert Humphrey, Sr. opened his first drugstore (no longer standing) in Lily, South Dakota in 1903. Humphrey met and married Kristine Sannes in Lily, and a few years later, they moved to Wallace, South Dakota. Their son, Hubert Humphrey, Jr. was born there in 1911, and he would go on to be Vice President of the United States from 1965 to 1969.
In case it’s not clear, they do not accept the Amoco credit card.
I visited Lily as part of a trip to several places in the area surrounding Aberdeen, including Crandall, Rockham, and Miranda. In addition, Zell, South Dakota, which was featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains, is just down the road.
Update: a visitor has pointed out this building was a fire hall with a bell tower, not a church. My mistake.
This is Buffalo Plains Historic Church, originally founded as Lily Lutheran in 1903. They hold services once a year here, and there’s a nice video of an annual service here.
Lily was featured in this video as part of a contest created by Oprah Winfrey.