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June “History Talks” commemorates 1972 Black Hills Flood

The fifty-year anniversary of the 1972 Black Hills flood is approaching quickly.

Twenty-eight-year-old Rapid City mayor Don Barnett faced the unthinkable on the evening of June 9th, 1972, when he began receiving reports of flooded creeks in the area, a result of a deluge of 17 inches of rain. A power outage made the flood warnings and evacuation alerts moot.

The foggy dawn of June 10th revealed the extent of the previous night’s death and destruction. 238 people were dead and a swath of ruined homes and businesses six miles long and six blocks wide.

Fifty years later, Barnett has written a memoir of the flood and its aftermath from the perspective of the Rapid City mayor’s office. He will share that story on Friday, June 10, at 3 pm central/2 pm mountain with a live audience at the Journey Museum’s Wells Fargo Theater and a virtual audience on Zoom (register at

This event is part of Rapid City’s commemoration of the 1972 Flood and is a collaborative program of The Journey Museum, the South Dakota Historical Society Press, and the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. Barnett’s book, Thorns and Roses, is available at the SDHS Foundation’s Heritage Gift Shop,

“History Talks” are a monthly series of author talks held virtually via Zoom. They are a joint program of the South Dakota Historical Society Press and the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. For more information on “History Talks,” contact SDHS Press, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501-2217; telephone 605-773-4371; or email For information on membership in the State Historical Society, call 605-773-6000 or visit

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing, and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.