Black Hills Area Floods - 1901 to 1910

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Black Hills Area Floods - 1901 to 1910

Look under the Multimedia table for pictures and more information regarding the event date and location, flow data (if available), a brief summary of the event, and links to available photographs or scanned newspaper articles.

Many floods were reported during 1901 to 1910, which may be one of the most active decades for flooding in the Black Hills area. Widespread flooding occurred in 1901, with the heaviest flooding in the northern parts of the Black Hills and areas north of Belle Fourche.

Widespread flooding occurred again in the northern Black Hills in June 1904, with reports indicating fairly severe flooding in some areas. This is one of the earliest years for which quantitative information is available from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamflow records; however, availability is limited to about a dozen stations with sporadic records within a general time frame of about 1903–06 (Miller and Driscoll, 1998). A peak flow of 5,000 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) was recorded on June 5, 1904, for station 06431500 along Spearfish Creek at Spearfish, which is one of the first large floods recorded at a USGS gaging station in the Black Hills area and through 2009 remains as the peak of record for this station.

Substantial flooding occurred in Hot Springs during two separate weeked in June 1905, and a severe storm was reported in the Edgemont area in June. Water was reported to be 15 ft deep in bottom areas in Sundance, Wyo., following a severe storm on July 11, 1905, and extensive rail damage throughout the Black Hills area during the month. A peak flow of 13,000 ft3/s was recorded on July 30, 1905, during the first year of USGS data collection at station 06395000 along the Cheyenne River at Edgemont, which is an unusually large peak for this time of year and provides an indication of probable widespread high-water conditions because of the large drainage area (7,143 square miles) involved. A peak flow of 9,150 ft3/s was recorded on August 12, 1905, during the first year of USGS data collection at station 06400000 along Hat Creek near Edgemont.

The year 1907 is one of the most noteworthy years for flooding in the Black Hills area. The Deadwood area had a record late snowfall of at least 2.5 ft in late May that followed heavy rain over a previous period of 60 hours. The widespread wet conditions that persisted through at least the end of May 1907 might have been a contributing factor to severe and large-scale flooding in the Black Hills that developed beginning the afternoon of Wednesday, June 12. Severe flooding was reported in Stagebarn Canyon and in the Little Elk and Elk Creek drainages. A peak flow of 16,000 ft3/s occurred along Boxelder Creek (station 06422500). The 1907 storms and flooding may be among the most severe that have been experienced in the Black Hills area since European settlement.

During 1908, Hot Springs had substantial flooding from heavy rainfall on May 31 that was exacerbated by saturated conditions from prolonged rains of the previous week.  A severe storm on May 9, 1909, caused damage and flooding in various parts of the Black Hills. During late May and early June 1909, widespread flooding from prolonged rains occurred in many streams in the northern Black Hills, with flooding along Spearfish Creek reported as some of the most substantial. In 1910, flooding occurred along the Belle Fourche River.



Fielder, Mildred, 1964, The Stagebarn Canyon flood: True West, January-February 1964, p. 45, 51.

Johnson, H.N., 1949, A climatological survey of the Black Hills: Rapid City, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Black Hills Engineer, v. 29, no. 1, p. 3-35.

Honerkamp, J.R., 1978, At the foot of the mountain: Piedmont, S. Dak., privately published, 232 p.

Miller, J.R., 1986, Rapid City climate: Rapid City, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Foundation, 66 p.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2008, The Rapid City flood of 1972—historic Black Hills floods, accessed December 12, 2008, at

South Dakota Historical Society, 1960, South Dakota Department of History—Report and historical collections: Stickney, S. Dak., Argus Printers, v. 30.

Twomey, K. and Magee, H., eds., and Mueller, D., and Petty, N., compilers, 1983, Early Hot Springs:  Hot Springs, S. Dak., Star Publishers, 117 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, National Water Information System (NWISWeb)—Peak streamflow for South Dakota: U.S. Geological Survey database,