On July 25, 1974 Storybook Island officially reopened following the devastation of the 1972 flood. Symbolic keys were presented to Girls and Boys Club representatives at the dedication of the rehabilitated park.
Just two or three of 30 original playsets were saved from the original park, including the 1911 coal-burning steam locomotive, dubbed “The Happy Train.” Several items were swept away with the flood waters, including Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, which landed near Baken Park. The “Three Men in a Tub” rode through the storm, landing ashore several miles from their original location. “Snow White and her Seven Dwarves” were split up in the storm, and four dwarves were never recovered.
Although losses were substantial, the Rotary Club and Rapid City community rallied together to save the children’s park. Vince Baumgartner, then the president of the Rotary Club led the park’s recovery efforts. Ahead of rebuilding the park, the current 13-acre site was selected for its proximity to Canyon Lake Drive. The new site was rebuilt through Office of Emergency Preparedness funds alongside matched funds raised by the community.
Read more about the history of Storybook Island on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital archives.