Deadwood, CO Flood, May 1883


More Than Half of Deadwood Swept Away.

A Destructive Torrent From the Hills - Houses and Mines Destroyed and Several Lives Lost - Other Towns Completely Wrecked.

ST. PAUL, Minn, May 20 - A Deadwood special to the Pioneer Press says: "The most disastrous flood that has ever been known in the history of this section has just visited Deadwood and the surrounding country. On Wednesday there was a sudden fall in the barometer, and it continued going down till evening, when a steady rain set in. Very soon the snow, which had been lying on the mountains, began to melt, forming rivulets, which rapidly grew into torrents. At 4 P. M., a telephone message from the Ten Mile Ranch apprised the Deadwood people that the entire volume of snow from the mountains was moving and to prepare for the worst. About this time Whitewood Creek, which runs through the city, left its banks and began its first work of destruction, increasing every minute in volume, and sweeping houses down the steam and cutting into the bank at places to a depth of 100 yards. In a few hours more than 70 houses had been washed away. But for the timely news it is impossible to say what the number of deaths would have been. More than one-half of Deadwood was swept away, but fortunately the substantial portion of the city on Main street was left standing. The loss in the city is estimated at $600,000, but even now it is impossible to get at a definite figure. Basket communication has been established between the separated portions of the city. The only deaths now known are those of GEORGE CHANDLER and wife and a hired man and another man whose name is unknown. All the towns up the gulch are more or less damaged. All of Pennington is swept away, together with the greatest portions of Crook City and Spearfish. The total losses of all these will be immense. Business is paralyzed throughout the gulch. The Homestake Mine has nine feet of water over it, and it is safe to say that weeks of work will not repair the damage done to the mines and railroads. All the mines in the neighborhood of Deadwood are shut down. The Golden Gate and South Bend are washed away and reports of disaster are being received from all quarters. Communication is almost impossible, as all the telegraph lines are washed out, and it is impossible to ascertain the amount of the damages. Only one telephone line remains, and that is overcrowded with work. The entire loss from this flood cannot fail to reach into the millions."

A special from Rapid City, further down the valley, says the flood has entirely surrounded that place with water, and many buildings will be swept away. The Rapid City Valley, more than 40 miles in length, all of which has already been seeded, is entirely submerged. The amount of damage done in this valley alone cannot be estimated. Many of the houses up the valley are being washed away, and probably many lives will be lost. An entire destruction of the coming crop may be expected.

The New York Times New York 1883-05-21

Continued on page 2