RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — This week marks 50 years since a flood killed more than 230 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings in Rapid City. Storybook Island was among the places hit in the 1972 flood.
Storybook Island has been entertaining families with its story-themed exhibits since the 1950s.
“When they opened in 1959 on the other side of the creek, they only had 2 acres developed and about 12 sets.”
Most of those original play areas washed away in 1972, when nearby Rapid Creek rushed beyond its banks.
“Storybook Island was impacted by the flood. Only two pieces survived from the flood.”
“It’s amazing that it’s still here and standing and survived that flood. I think it brings back a lot of memories for a lot of people,” Kelci Carroll, CFO, said.
“They opened back over here in 1973. We signed our lease from the city for 15 acres and right now we have eight and a half developed with over a hundred playsets and counting,” Jackie Laws, Exec. Dir. of Storybook Island, said.
That new location on the other side of the creek has added 41 new exhibits and is as busy as ever.
Each summer about 200,000 people visit Storybook Island here in Rapid City.
“Having a place where everybody can come and feel safe and be able to play for hours on end. And people of all ages come here and enjoy it,” Carroll said.
While looking back on the tragic week 50 years ago can be hard, Executive Director Jackie Laws says it’s important to see how far the park has grown.
Storybook Island opened last weekend for the summer. The park is free of charge for anyone who wants to visit. Donations are welcome.
We’ve included a link to all the events going on this week for the 50th commemoration of the 1972 flood.