Public invited to vote for their favorite De Smet Highway 14 Trail Tower design


DE SMET — A unique unveiling being held Saturday evening promises those attending an exclusive first look as the Top 20 international designs submitted for the proposed Highway 14 Trail Tower are unveiled.

The public is invited to a special open house from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the De Smet Event Center, where the exclusive proposals will be on display.

Attendees will have the rare opportunity to cast their votes for their preferred tower design, potentially shaping the Kingsbury County skyline in the future. The open house will feature remarks at 5 p.m. from a National Park Service representative and a local jury member from the competition judging team, offering deeper understanding into the designs submitted along with the competition’s scope and global talent it attracted.

Rita Anderson, spokesperson for the Highway 14 Tower Trail Team, commented, “We are so excited to have the international recognition that this Tower has brought to Kingsbury County and our entire region. I did not realize there were so many different styles of towers from tall to sprawling to open but all representing our history and landscaping.”

In 2023, the Highway 14 Trail and Tower received international attention when the renowned architectural design organization, Buildners, selected the local tower project to be the subject of their highly coveted design competition.

Over the past six months, teams of architects, engineers and creatives from all over the world have researched all they can find about the history and the people of the region, the historic Silver Lake and Big Slough wetlands and the surrounding landscape all with one goal – to design the future centerpiece that will be featured as the Highway 14 Trail Tower.

Buildners reported they were very pleased with the number of entries, as well as the diversity and creativity of the submissions. Over 160 entries from around the world were narrowed down to the top 40, with the National Park Service staff further selecting the top 20 for public presentation. The designs include detailed drawings and renderings of the unique features of the individual structures and stories of the process used in the design. Kingsbury County Commissioner Kyle Lee was selected as one of the Jury for the competition.

The proposed observation tower, positioned on the edge of Silver Lake and the Big Slough, aims to offer visitors from around the world a glimpse into the natural beauty and historical significance of the region famously depicted in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved books.

It will be encompassed by the Hwy 14 Tower Trail, planned in several phases along Hwy 14, across the Big Slough, and through the Forest Reserve to eventually extend to Lake Thompson State Park and then countywide with future visions for a statewide Highway 14 Trail.

This Saturday’s event is not only a celebration of architectural innovation but also a community gathering with appetizers, beverages, and the opportunity to engage with the history and future of the region.

For more information, please contact the De Smet Development Corporation at 605-854-9011, email, or visit the website at