Forty-five years ago on June 9, 1972, torrential rains caused the Canyon Lake Dam to fail and sent water rushing through Rapid CIty. More than ten inches of rainfall over six hours had caused Rapid Creek and several other streams to overflow their banks. The water swept trees, buildings, automobiles and other debris away in its path.
The flood claimed 238 lives and caused over $160 million in property damage. Following the flood, the city constructed a 12-mile-long bike path and public greenway as both a memorial to those who were lost in the flood as well as a mechanism to ensure that a similar tragedy would not occur in the future.
The Black Hills Knowledge Network hosts a variety of historical items concerning the flood, including photos, government documents, news reports, and more on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Digital Archives. Then Rapid City Public LIbrary also has a variety of resources on the flood, including written and oral histories, photographs, news broadcasts, and the Robb DeWall Collection. DeWall was a broadcast journalist, historian and the Emergency Broadcasting System broadcaster during the initial hours of the 1972 flood.
Learn more about the 1972 Rapid City and Black Hills Flood on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Issue Hub.