Shortly after Tripp County was opened to settlement in 1909, the town of Carter was platted and the initial lot sale was held on the 17th of December, 1909. The highest prices ever paid for vacant lots in any townsite in the Rosebud country, or in the state, so far as is known, were paid for lots in Carter. Business lots reached as high as $3,100 for 25' x 140' lots. Few sold for less than $1500.
CONSTRUCTION OF CARTER
Building started during the winter of 1909-10 with the expectation that the Chicago Northwestern Railway would be coming through. Even the hard winter did not hold back progress as the advantages of Carter were not to be questioned. Its trade territory would be Tripp, Todd, and Mellette counties plus Washabaugh and Bennett counties to the west. It was the center of the land district with no impassable streams. The Western Townsite Company (owned by the Jackson Bros.) was behind the promotion of Carter and had contracted with the Pioneer Townsite Company for the establishment of a Chicago Northwestern Railway station at Carter. This was to be one of the railway's most important terminus for the time to come. The Chamberlain and Gregory U.S. Land offices were to be combined and Carter was to have a government land office.
Big two-story buildings were erected. The Hotel put up by I. T. Stone was the finest this side of Norfolk and Fremont, Nebraska. Banks were started and businesses set up. In total, there were 29 businesses by 1910 including the hotel, two grocery stores, a hardware store, two saloons, two livery stables, two lumber yards, a blacksmith shop, garage, barber shop, newspaper, and a doctor.
Carter's first newspaper was "The Carter News" and was published May 26th, 1910.
The town of Carter may have been named for Jarvis W. Carter, Registrar of the Land office, Pierre. Some contended it was named for a rancher to the south by the name of Carter.
October 8, 1910, the Carter Woman's Club was organized. In 1911, it was admitted to the Federated Woman's Club.
Water of 99.75% purity was to be conveyed from springs to the south of Carter. A dam was built on Deer Creek (DeBell), which formed the beautiful Lake Westonka to the east of Carter. This lake provided the swimming hole, the picnic grounds, boating, and fishing plus an ice harvest in the winter.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CARTER
Two devastating fires, one on January 12, 1925, and one on March 31, 1926, consumed much of the town. The fact that they were never able to float bonds for a water system was perhaps a contributing factor to the final fall of the town.
Another reason contributing to the decline of the town was the loss of the railroad. In 1929, it was built to the north going to Wood, South Dakota.
Carter in its heyday is said to have had a population of 300 people and probably had the most substantial buildings of any town in Rosebud country. In 1925, the census figures show 94 residents with a steady decline each census to follow. By 1980, there were only 7 residents left and in 1983, the town was dissolved and became a part of the Carter Township.
Source: Tripp County Historical Society, 6th Annual Auto Caravan, Heritage Tour, Sunday, September 26, 1976