Twelve years after its founding, Spearfish was incorporated as a city in 1888. Spearfish settlers’ first community task, in 1876, was construction of a log stockade. Soon after Spearfish people began working aggressively to bring about longer lasting community assets. Successes included the territorial normal school in 1883, a railroad spur through Spearfish Canyon in 1893, and a federal trout hatchery in 1899.
Meanwhile, Spearfish prospered thanks to a diverse range of private enterprises: irrigated farming, cattle ranching, logging, retail, milling, dairy processing, and mining. Early 20th century Spearfish residents launched a successful campaign to build a highway through scenic Spearfish Canyon.