Remembering Keystone, the lives lost during the 1972 Flood

Rapid City wasn't the only community hit by the 1972 flood.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 7:00 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -The Black Hills Flood of 1972 is recognized as one of the most destructive and devastating floods in U.S. history. According to the National Weather Service, 238 people, including five missing... were declared dead; 3,000 people were reported injured in the flood. Most of the deaths were reported in Rapid City, but Keystone lost more than 10 people, most of whom were visitors.

Casey Sullivan, Director of the Keystone Historical Museum says some of Keystone’s oldest buildings were ravaged by the flood.

He states “Keystone did lose 70-year-old buildings by flood damage. There are about 14 people that we know of that did pass away in the area. By today’s standards, it was over 11 million worth of damages in everything. It was mainly commercial damage, so a lot of the flood water from grizzly creek on the south end of town... I guess that was where the initial burst of flood water came from.”

The Keystone Historical Museum’s 50th-anniversary book titled Keystone Remembered, shows photos of Keystone just days after the devastation. Railroad tracks were washed away, and campgrounds destroyed overnight, members of the Keystone community woke up the next day unaware of what the future held but remained resilient.

Sullivan states “A lot of the shops on Main Street were just flooded out, mudded. That took the brunt of it there, after that it was mainly homes. That was probably the earliest and hardest accomplishment to bounce back from a flood for any city ever I bet.”

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