1972 Flood History
In June of 1972 a devastating flood took the lives of 238 individuals. The Flood has had a lasting impact on the City’s memory, landscape, and development policies.
Visit some of these archives to learn more about the flood and the individual experiences of those who lived through it.
- South Dakota Public Broadcasting Images of the Past Collection
- South Dakota State Historical Society Collection
- Rapid City Public Library’s 1972 Black Hills Flood Project
- Minnilusa Pioneer Museum Digital Archives – see Flood Collection
Prior to the flood, many homes and businesses were located along Rapid Creek. After the Flood, the City acquired the property within the floodway as part of the recovery efforts. Rapid City is now known for the 6-mile long bike path that spans the community alongside Rapid Creek, the Leonard “Swanny” Swanson Memorial Pathway. This important and much loved amenity was born in the aftermath of the 1972 flood. The City named the bike path after former public works director, Leonard Swanson, who died in 2008. Swanson is honored for his role in leading efforts to recover from the flood, maintain the floodway as open space for public safety, and to create the greenway for recreational activities. Memorial Park, a 28 acre greenspace in the heart of downtown Rapid City was acquired in 1972, after the flood.
In order to protect the lives and property of all its residents from future flood devastation, the City adopted policies which restricted development and activities within the Flood Hazard Area. The original policies were revaluated in August of 2007 at the request of the City Council. Then Mayor Alan Hanks reappointed a Floodplain Development Policy Committee.
The Final Report of the Floodplain Development Policy Committee is available at the Rapid City Public Library.
- Resolution Establishing a Rapid Creek Floodplain Policy (9.2 mb)
- Flood Area Construction Regulations, Chapter 15.32 of the Rapid City Municipal Code
Events and Information
Information about events and projects related to observance of the 50th anniversary of the Flood will be provided here as they become available.