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South Dakota History explores Deadwood fires and the 1972 Black Hills flood

The annual historic preservation issue of “South Dakota History,” the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society, features articles on how four major fires transformed Deadwood and how Rapid City rebuilt following the catastrophic Black Hills flood of 1972.

David A. Wolff’s article “From Disaster to Prosperity: Four Fires that Changed Deadwood” examines the aftermath of destructive blazes in 1879, 1889, 1894, and 1987. In each case, Deadwood residents and civic leaders responded creatively and made changes that helped stabilize the city. Wolff, an emeritus professor of history at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, is an expert on Black Hills history. He is the author of three books, including “The Savior of Deadwood: James K. P. Miller on the Gold Frontier,” which the South Dakota Historical Society Press published in 2021. 

In “The 1972 Black Hills Flood and the Remaking of Rapid City,” Corey Christianson details how the city responded in the wake of a disaster that caused more than 200 deaths and displaced thousands more. The article shows how the city’s rebuilding efforts emphasized residents’ safety while also leading to a massive expansion of the city’s greenway system. Christianson is the collections management specialist for the South Dakota State Historical Society and a researcher for the Journey Museum in Rapid City.

Finally, Elizabeth J. Almlie, a historic preservation specialist with the South Dakota State Historical Society, looks back at the 50th anniversary of the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This short piece reflects on the office’s origins and notes some of its significant achievements during its first half century. Notably, SHPO has supported an annual historical preservation issue of “South Dakota History” since 2003.

Members of the South Dakota State Historical Society will receive their copy of the issue later this month. “South Dakota History” is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. To become a member, call 605-773-6000. To purchase individual issues, call 605-773-6009 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, 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. For questions or memberships, 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.