Legacy of Achievement: Hall of Fame Inductee Earl Brockelsby

Earl Brockelsby was a visionary of the South Dakota Tourism Industry. As early as 1935 Earl recognized the need and importance to bring and maintain visitors to the state. Through his love and fascination with reptiles Brockelsby created the Black Hills Reptile Gardens, an enterprise that would eventually become the world’s largest collection of reptiles and one of the main attractions in South Dakota, particularly western South Dakota.

Aside from his growing enterprise of Reptile Gardens, Earl operated a number of other businesses in the Rapid City area, including Rushmore Amusement Company, the Palace Meat Market, Casino Bowling Lanes and Black Hills Novelty Company.

Along with his business ventures, Brockelsby also devoted much of his life to public service. He served as a Rapid City Commissioner at age 29 and served as mayor of Rapid City from 1948-1949. To ensure Brockelsby's vision of tourism to the western part of South Dakota, he served as a director of the Black Hills Badlands and Lakes Association for 28 years during which time he served as President.For his work in the tourism industry, Brockelsby was awarded the Ben Black Elk Award for a lifetime of distinguished service to the state’s tourism industry.

Throughout his life, Earl Brockelsby always carried with him a belief in the equality of all people. This belief made him especially supportive of South Dakota’s Native American population. By any measure, Earl Brockelsby was a successful businessman, but he would never have been content to leave that for his epitaph. Besides caring for his family, he believed he had a responsibility to help his community, his state, his industry and other people. Earl Brockelsby's life shows that he lived out those beliefs.

Year of Induction2000
Home TownRapid City, South Dakota
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