Keystone incorporated just one day before 1972 flood

KEYSTONE, S.D. — The community of Keystone has been around since the 1800s, but it wasn’t incorporated as a town until 1972. June 8, 1972 – one day before the flood.

Keystone, SD

Keystone, SD

Keystone, SD

Pennington County Commissioners voted that day to incorporate the town. They were counting ballots for town council when the flood hit.

Thirteen people in Keystone lost their lives, and the town was effectively destroyed. Those 13 people were camping along the creek when the floodwaters came.

“Keystone is resilient. They rebuilt right away,” says Cassandra Ott, the finance officer for the town of Keystone. “They’re tourist-oriented and they have been since the seventies – and before. And so the flood happened and the next day people were mucking out their shops trying to get ready for tourists that couldn’t even make it into town.”

While Rapid City didn’t rebuild in the flood plain – Keystone did, since FEMA didn’t start regulating building in floodplains until a few years after the 1972 Flood. Ott says the town is in the process of updating their flood maps with FEMA, and it shows a large portion of downtown is in a 500-year floodplain.

Categories: 1972 Flood, Local News, South Dakota News