Wednesday, August 27, 2014

rapid creek

Rapid Creek runs out of the Black Hills down through the valley of Rapid City, South Dakota - the city taking its name from the creek.

From one side of the city to the other is a paved bike/walking path that follows Rapid Creek as it twists and turns on its way from west to east, connecting the city's parks - Canyon Lake Park, Sioux Park, Founders Park, Roosevelt Park, Memorial Park, Centennial Park. I have never seen such an extensive and beautiful park system in a city, and it all began with the Flood of '72.

After the water poured out of the hills that fateful night, flooding the city, after all the destruction and cleanup, the city mandated no re-building in the flood plain - 5 blocks wide and 8.5 miles long, the entire breadth of Rapid City. This open area was cleaned up, grass and flowers and trees were planted, pathways paved, and people came. People use it for taking walks, riding bikes or skateboards, picnics, fishing, canoeing, golf, frisbee golf, a beautiful green playground for folks and pets alike. We have also seen several weddings in the parks just the short time we have been here.

The Leonard Swanson Memorial Pathway is 8.5 miles long, is named for Leonard Swanson who was the public works director for Rapid City during the flood of '72, and Urban Renewal Director for several years after the flood.

The beautiful park system is a positive outcome of the devastation, but maybe a reminder too for the local citizens. June 9, 1972 - the day that changed Rapid City, South Dakota.

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