Raging waters flowed through Rapid Creek and several other Black Hills streams, overflowing the stream beds and sweeping trees, buildings and automobiles and other debris downstream.
The failure of the dam at Canyon Lake sent water rushing through Rapid City. After flood waters receded, 238 people were dead and over 3,000 injured.
The Rapid City Public Library has collected written and oral histories, photographs, news broadcasts and more about the flood in order to preserve memories and record the history of the night that impacted so many people.
Robb DeWall (pictured above), a long time resident of Rapid City, broadcast journalist, and historian was the EBS (Emergency Broadcasting System) broadcaster during the first 13 hours of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. His papers were donated by his estate to be preserved electronically by the Rapid City Public Library. The manuscripts are retained by the Minnilusa Historical Society. Transcripts of broadcasts are used by permission of KOTA.
Radio & Television
The following radio and television broadcasts have been donated to the Rapid City Public Library's collection of items relating to the 1972 Flood. The broadcasts are used by permission of KOTA.
This video was a production of the Montana-Dakota Utilities Company, donated to the Rapid City Public Library's 1972 Black Hill Flood Oral History Project.
Part of the Robb Dewall collection, this is the audio of the KOTA Broadcasts - warnings and reporting on Flood from June 9, 1972.
Part of the Robb Dewall collection, this is the audio of his interview with Mayor Don Barnett.
Part of the Robb Dewall collection, this is the audio of his interview with Governor Richard Kneip.
The names, photos, and bios of the June 9, 1972 flood victims.
Historic documents, newspaper articles, and websites show the civic history of the Flood Plain's creation and preservation.
Photographs from the community are available in the BHKN Digital archives. Also contains documents from government agencies that led to the development of the Flood Plains in Rapid City.
Rapid City Flood: Commercial Damage documents the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. This collection contains photographs of the damage to commercial properties and the subsequent reseeding efforts.
Rapid City Flood: Community Damage documents the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. The images capture the damage to public spaces and include the devastation of creeks and canyons, husbandry, vehicles, and various structures. The collection also examines the effort to memorialize the 283 men, women, and children who lost their lives in the flood.
Rapid City Flood: Residential Damage documents the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. The collection contains photographs of the destruction to residential properties such as houses, mobile homes, exposed foundations, and displaced structures.
Rapid City: Flood Victims: Flood Victims documents the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. The collection focuses on community efforts to memorialize the 238 men, women, and children who lost their lives in the flood and includes photographs, newspaper articles, biographies, and lists of the victims.
Reports & Media Coverage: A Rapid City Flood Collection documents the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. The collection includes official reports, photographs, newspaper articles, KOTA coverage, and correspondence. The official reports feature government studies, agendas, critiques, and memos of the event.
Reseeding Efforts: A Rapid City Flood Collection documents the aftermath of the Rapid City Flood of 1972. The collection includes photographs, newspaper articles, and a KOTA transcript of initiatives to restore landscape damaged by the flood. The images capture the process of preparing, drilling, shaping, and reseeding areas in and surrounding the city.
In the aftermath of the flood, the South Dakota Oral History Center conducted a series of interviews with about 250 flood victims in Rapid City and the surrounding areas.
The region marks the anniversaries of the flood in June and remembers the 238 people known to have died.
We are always looking for more people to share their stories with us either by writing it down or being interviewed by one of our staff members. If you would like to write your story for us to add to this website, please contact Sam Slocum at the Rapid City Public Library.
If you would like to be interviewed by our staff either in person or over the phone or if you have materials related to the events on and following June 9, 1972 and would like to donate them to the library to be digitized and added to our collection, contact the Rapid City Public Library.
610 Quincy Street
Rapid City, SD 57701
605-394-6139 ext. 2220