Seney Island, Sioux Steel Development Controversy

Guest Post Bruce Danielson

The recent story (Land ownership question hovers over $185 million Sioux Falls redevelopment plan) of Seney Island tripped a few issues long ago buried in the back of my mind. I have no dog in the show being presented in the Sioux Steel – Seney Island project, but I feel the history of the project needs to include a proper land title search being performed and then presented.


Also, the interesting bit of data in the article claims 160 acres being granted but the original 1859 clearly shows the town lot company survey had the planned layout and 1865 – 1869 maps show the Fort Sod fortification lines of the new settlement. From my research of many years ago, there would not have been a granting of homestead rights in the 1860’s to land already committed to being a townsite.

The enclosed image of the original survey 1859 map of Sioux Falls, shows Seney Island and the village platting. These discrepancies have bugged me to the point where I matched the 1859 images over a current Google Earth image of Sioux Falls. Though not perfect, it does show the relationship of the Island and most of the Sioux Steel property being on Seney Island.

The 1881 drawing shows the relationship of Seney Island to the coffer dam rerouting the water for the mill.

For over 40 years I have heard from old-timers and read stories of how the west channel or oxbow of the Sioux River was used as the original community landfill until it closed it to navigation. The main channel of the Sioux had to be changed to allow for the dam to produce enough water for the mill and power plant.

The 1900 photo of the west channel shown in your story, was the result efforts to fill in the river channel. The old-timers I knew, used to tell stories of the smells coming from the rotting debris leeching to the surface until it was finally covered over. As the property is now being readied for a new purpose, opening up the land could bring back the environmental issues long ago covered up.


#1 "Very Stable Genius" on 03.03.20 at 12:13 am

But what is in question is the land, which was once navigable, right? So that would include not only some of the current “Sioux Steel land,” but also a good share of the land that the Levitt Shell is found on, right?

( – and Woodstock adds: “So you used to be able to navigate through garbage around here?”…. “Imagine the breathtaking experience a canoeist could have had in our times with nearby asbestos being dumped into such a convenient channel”….(“Yah, put it over there, it will help us to get a TIF ‘Someday'”…))

#2 Bruce on 03.03.20 at 7:31 am

The Levitt Shell is likely sitting in / on the channel, on top of the muck.

#3 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.03.20 at 11:25 am

Bruce writes a very nice piece here, and most of what he says is true and correct. I also have been writing about this situation, and I to believe the “STATE’S” job here is to protect the land patent rights to this land.

Let’s be truthful here — That West Channel was 100% Navigatable all the way up to the early 1900’s when the “railroad companies” took over the USER RIGHTS of the land, then recommended to the public to use the ‘channel’ as a dumbsite for garbage, sludge, waste, dirt, whatever they could throw in that.

I am not sure if Bruce has any pictures of the channel showing boat rides down its path, but I have have come across pictures, stories, and other info that I posted on my “WE THE PEOPLE OF SIOUX FALLS” Facebook Page to prove that Channel was every bit NAVIGABLE.

Lets also be honest shall we – and Bruce Danielson knows this better than anyone I imagine; a Petition will not stop this developement from happening, to much corruption here. However …

Can you say CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT against all parties of financial interest in this development, plus a asking a judge to place a INJUNCTION on the development until we can resolve this matter concerning the Land Patent?

We would need at least 10 people (more the merrier) to make a strong enough case in a potential LAWSUIT which must be done in FEDERAL COURT, since it was the Federal Government that sold the Patent, and of which would have ‘jurisdiction’ in this matter.

The STATE is sworn to protect all lands in the name of the people. GOVERNMENT does NOT own any land, they merely are the caretakers of such land until “SOMEONE” comes in and places a CLAIM on the land.

WE CAN “SAVE” SENEY ISLAND – IF we all come together. We The People “OWN” the land, there is a LAND PATENT CLAIM on that land held by someone. Government owns NO LAND, they simply hold the Land Patents Rights based on the fact they were surrendered temporarily in the name of the People for some form of benefit. Sioux Steel nor Lloyd Companies Own that Land, they merely hold “user rights” to the land deed.

1) WE THE PEOPLE need no less than 10 PEOPLE to file a Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court against all parties of interest.

2) WE THE PEOPLE need to file an “Injunction” to place the Proposed Development on HOLD until a Federal Judge can decide the case.

3) LAND PATENTS awarded by the Federal Government to an Individual whom had proven a claim to the land based on the fact he/she negociated a purchase price, abide by all regulations/restrictions placed on the Patent holds the “Ownership” to that land forever, passed on down to each Living Heir. WE GOT to find this person and fast.

4) GOVERNMENT OWNS NO LAND – the LAND was purchased in the NAME of “WE THE PEOPLE” as we fought wars to take this country, let alone purchased the land from the previous land owner.

EXAMPLE – the land we are discussing today – was part of the LOUISANA PURCHASE where “WE THE PEOPLE” purchased the land from France. The Federal Government merely “Sectioned” Off the land into sections. Each Section being roughly 160 to 200 acres in size, then placed a monetary value on each acre @ $1.75. It was fairly cheap to purchase land, prove your claim, and abide by the rules placed on the agreement, and finally obtaining the Patent Rights. All the Federal Government did was ‘hold’ the land in a TRUST until someone came forward showing claim to the land.

Lets also remember – during the 1930’s – AMERICANS were tricked or deceived into giving up their land patents when they borrowed money from the BANK using their land as collateral. The BANK most likely held the PATENT until that interest was paid in full. The problem the Land Patents Rights were contracted to the States in order to control the Land Use. True OWNERSHIP of the land has never legally been transferred, the Government thru statutes, codes, regulations usurped the ownership rights from the people.



#4 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.03.20 at 11:33 am

Attention Bruce –

I can actually ‘walk’ the path of the West Channel, its actually quite noticable to the nakid eye. I cannot beleive the property owners (so called owners) claim they cannot find the West Channel..I actually went and video recorded where it starts, walked its path.

First-you must find the entry point along the west bank leading to the island itself, follow it to the “BOULDERS” along the Sioux Steel Fence line. That is the port of entry to the channel; From there, the channel went pretty much in a straight line at a Southwestern Angel headed straight to 4th Street/Phillips. At this point there once was a “Bridge” allowing pedestrians to cross over the channel; Now – turn and walk in a straight line at 20 degree angle back to the Sioux River, here you come to the confluence, and at this location – there you had a very nice “sand beach” and a “water hole” where our ancestors once swam.

Bruce – you like to video record, I recommend do like I did and go out and walk its path.

Another side note, there is still ‘water’ in those grounds, there is a Sewer/Culvert Pipe in the ground, its clearly marked above land.

Lloyd Developments, Sioux Steel are both not telling the truth, that CHANNEL was in fact navigable, and it is clearly visible, anyone can find its path. Especially if you had a infrared Camera.

Mike Zitterich
Sioux Falls.

#5 Warren Phear on 03.04.20 at 11:18 am

Mike Lee. I have had an interest in the past with where Seney Island was. You have undertaken it a bit further. I usually visualize it as the apex at 4th and Phillips. I know Scotts superimposed image is very close. Is there anything you wish to add that might make his image clearer?

#6 Bond Perilous on 03.10.20 at 12:32 am

The overlay is distorted, being compressed north-south. The main falls do not align between the two images. It would help if the overlay was slightly transparent.

#7 l3wis on 03.10.20 at 7:27 am

If you look at the pdf, you will see how the block plats line up identical.