Canton played an early role in South Dakota’s history (see last post), and was full of people who wanted to see it grow. The town set up a school almost as soon as the citizens began building log homes (1868), and shortly thereafter established businesses like the Elkhorn Tavern, a general store and community building, and a post office. A town newspaper, The Sioux Valley News began publication in 1872; as families filtered in, the town required a blacksmith shop, restaurant, dry goods store, grocery store, and other typical amenities needed in any settled town. A wide-flung business district developed, and by the late 1870s, Canton had a thriving social and business scene.
When a railroad junction (the Milwaukee McGregor line) came to Canton in 1879, citizens were delighted. The line gave the town direct service to Chicago, and the promise of bigger and better things to come. That year, the town had 71 buildings; three years later, it had 236. A year after that, Augustana College moved from the nearby town of Beloit to Canton. Teddy Roosevelt stopped in Canton in 1900, and on the last day of 1902, the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians opened. The asylum staff gathered at the train station to meet the first patient, and Canton’s residents were sure that the unique facility would bring the whole town fame.