In the early days, Sturgis was referred to as Scoop Town. There are a number of stories that persist as to why this name was used, but most are variations on a common theme. Fort Meade, originally Camp J.G. Sturgis, was established to protect travelers to the Black Hills during the gold rush years, around 1878. What was to become Sturgis sprang up to meet the needs of the soldiers and miners. The early entrepreneurs, many of them proprietors of saloons and brothels, were said to “scoop up” the money of the cavalrymen and miners. Other stories are that the early town was so lucrative and so much disposable income was available to those entrepreneurs they literally had to “scoop up” all the profit.
The town was named after Colonel Sturgis, who commanded Fort Meade during the gold rush era. As the scoop town moniker faded, the City marketed itself as the “Key City” or “Key City to the Black Hills”. This name is in reference to the geographical position of Sturgis at the valley entrance to the Northern Black Hills, where the most significant deposits of gold were discovered. Sturgis was a key landmark and destination for travelers from the east on their way to one of numerous mining towns located throughout the Northern Hills. Sturgis was referred to as the Key City extensively through the 1900’s and continues to be to this day, but to a lesser extent toward the end of the 20’th century.
Sturgis became a household name because of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Because of this, in more recent times it has been marketed as, and become much more well known as the “City of Riders”. The City of Riders moniker pays tribute to the presence of the 4th, 7th, and 10th Cavalries stationed at Fort Meade in the past. It also pays tribute to the present Motorcycle Rally, as well as a potential future where Sturgis will be known worldwide as a mountain biking destination.