"It was the loudest noise I have ever heard in my entire life," said public school district Assistant Superintendent Becky Guffin.
She, a principal and teacher from the district were at a meeting at the King's Inn near the train tracks when they heard the sound.
The educators thought perhaps two trains had backed into each other, she said. But they didn't hear any sirens, so they figured it must have been construction, she said. It wasn't until Guffin later checked the U.S. Geological Survey's website that she learned it had been an earthquake.
The USGS Earthquake Center confirmed a magnitude 3.4 quake hit three miles west of Pierre at 2:45 p.m. No damage was reported, but people in the city reported hearing multiple booms.
The last earthquake recorded in South Dakota was Feb. 7, 2007, when a 3.1 magnitude quake hit 15 miles west-northwest of Wall, according to the geological survey.
Guffin said this was the first earthquake she has experienced. While it was a little bizarre, it certainly wasn't the typical earthquake portrayed on TV, where objects are falling down, she said.
And it's not exactly something she thought she had to worry about in South Dakota's capital city.
"Usually when I come to Pierre, it's blizzards," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.