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The earliest known visitor to the area was Lewis P. The residents named the community Canton, believing the location to be the exact opposite of Canton, China.By the summer of that year, a caravan of 180 Norwegian settlers crossed the Big Sioux River to make their home in Canton. Paul and Pacific Railroad crossed the Big Sioux River to reach Canton. The city has many historical homes and buildings dating back to the late 1800s.The gender makeup of the city was 48.5% male and 51.5% female.In 1884, Augustana College moved from Beloit, Iowa, to Canton. Attendance doubled, but a series of crop failures soon followed.The City of Canton operates under the council-manager form of government.Canton's governing body is made up of nine members.

The city of Canton is also the County seat for Lincoln County, South Dakota.

An elementary through high school was also built as part of Augustana's relocation, and educated the internationally known physicist Merle Tuve, and brothers John Lawrence and Ernest Lawrence. As a result, in 1894, the Church Synod withheld appropriations.

President Tuve assumed all financial obligations in order to keep the school open. The school became widely known for its excellence in academics and for the many scholars came for speaking engagements.

Canton is located at Canton has been assigned the ZIP code 57013 and the FIPS place code 09500.

Canton experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), which is characterized by hot, relatively humid summers and cold, dry winters, and is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 4b.

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