Rapid City, South Dakota
Stevens High School
History of Rapid City, South Dakota:
The first and perhaps most important event that deserves mention in Rapid City, South Dakota in regard to hauntings and paranormal events is the Black Hills Flood that happened on June 9, in 1972. When we visited Rapid City, many of the locals that we spoke to said that “the whole town seemed haunted”. Before doing our historical research, we really had no reason to believe this was true. However, the Black Hills Flood was a nightmarish event that happened in Rapid City wherein 250 people were killed, over 3,000 people injured and 118 people hospitalized. Damages as a result of the flood were $100 million.
Rapid City is the second largest city in South Dakota with a population of about 60,000 residents. It is located in Pennington County on the western side of the state. It gets its name from the Rapid Creek, which overflowed in the 1972 Black Hills Flood.
Rapid City was established in 1874 when gold was discovered nearby. It was founded in 1876 by a group of disappointed miners. They called the town “Hay Camp” and tried to promote it as the “Gateway to the Black Hills”. Luckily, it soon became a good hub for railroads because of its position at the edge of the Black Hills and the Great Plains. In the late 1890’s the automobile was invented and tourists began patronizing the town which was now called Rapid City. Mount Rushmore National Monument became a reality and Rapid City was thriving. The Great Depression made life difficult, but tourism kept the city alive in the 1930’s.
The Rapid City Army Air Force Base, later known as Ellsworth Air Force Base was opened in Rapid City during World War II, which boosted the economy in Rapid City following the Depression. The city grew and developed through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s.
Then, the worst natural disaster in South Dakota history happened in Rapid City. Fifteen inches of rain fell in 6 hours. Canyon Lake Dam broke in the middle of the night unleashing a wall of water that wiped out homes and buildings, killing people in its path. People who remember the night of the flood tell stories of families leaving their dinner sitting at the table fleeing for their lives, their houses completely washed away after the dam broke. The Rapid City Public Library has an archive of stories about the 1972 Black Hills Flood.
Following the devastation, Rapid City cleared the area around Rapid Creek and made it into a public park. New homes and businesses were built atop the rubble.
Today, Rapid City is considered the “Gateway to the Black Hills” and serves as an important tourist destination for people visiting this area.
Stevens High School opened in 1969, three years before the Black Hills Flood. Today, Stevens High School is one of only two public high schools in Rapid City. It has an enrollment of about 1600 students.
Ghosts and Hauntings at Stevens High School in Rapid City, South Dakota:
Stevens High School is, according to students, haunted by a ghost known as “Sparky” who opens and closes doors and turns light on and off at the Stevens High School.
The Shadowlord (1998). The Shadowlands Haunted Places Indexs: South Dakota. Retrieved January 24, 2011 from http://theshadowlands.net/places/south_dakota.htm
Wikipedia (2011). Rapid City, South Dakota. Retrieved January 28, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_City,_South_Dakota
Wikipedia (2011). Black Hills Flood. Retrieved January 28, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hills_flood
Wikipedia (2011). Stevens High School (South Dakota). Retrieved January 28, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevens_High_School_(South_Dakota)