More than four decades on, the Rapid City area remains indelibly scarred by the devastating flood of 1972.
After a major storm system hovered over the central Black Hills west of Rapid City and dumped more than 14 inches of rain, the evening of Friday, June 9, 1972, became notorious as the worst night ever in the city's long and storied history.
Rapid Creek water levels rose four feet in a minute or less in the Dark Canyon area. Eventually, a wall of water rushed down upon Rapid City, destroying homes and businesses in a wide swath along the creek. In all, 238 people died in the raging waters. Stories of tragedy and heroism were commonplace.
Rapid City became the center of national news, and reporters, aide workers, volunteers and public officials flocked to the area to examine the damage and help clean up. A special edition of the Rapid City Journal published on June 26, 1972, carried the ominous headline, "It's rather like war ... isn't it?"
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These days, flood control measures and clearing the creek's flood plain have changed the city's landscape. But memories of the flood will never fade for those who lived through it.
Today, on the 44th anniversary of the tragedy, the Journal provides these images as a way to keep memories of the flood alive and as a cautionary tale against taking life for granted.
Those who want to remember the 1972 flood with more clarity and discussion are invited to an evening of short films from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today at the downtown Rapid City Public Library.
Patrons can view a film created by the library featuring the story of the flood through oral history interviews. The film, "One Night in June," as well as historic film footage provided by the Journey Museum, also will be shown.