Marie Irwin


Written Memory


September 11, 2011


Location of Memory: Hot Springs

Our thoughts and Prayers for the victims of tragedy especially remembered today (10th Anniversary of 911) and always.

It was a fun day, June 9th, 1972. We were coming back from our vacation out West. We had seen for the first time: Mesa Verde, Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. I was 13, my sisters were 11 and 22.

On the way home to St. Paul, my 2 sisters, brother in law and I decided to stop at the Hot Springs near Rapid City. We stayed alot longer than we had planned (6 hours) enjoying the warm indoor hot spring pools.

That evening on the way out of town the sky suddenly blacked with storm clouds, just as quickly we were pelted with the fiercest hail storm, (I believe) on HWY 90, that we ever experienced!

Since the visibility was non-existent, with the thick hail so fierce, all cars including the cars directly in front and behind us had to pull to the side of the road. After a short stop we all were on the road again.

Since the storm disappeared my oldest sister asked if we wanted to spent the night in the nearby park campground since we liked how nice it was a week prior.

I do not know why, maybe the suddenly storm had spooked us or we had a troubled feeling but both my little sister and I shouted at the same time,"NO, lets not stay there"! I added: "We have to leave and get out of this place!"

My brother in law was so alarmed by our response he stepped on the gas and we left the area as fast as our big (8 cylinder) rental car could comfortability go.

It was strange how no one argued or questioned this sudden decision.

Towards midnight we fould ourselves in a little town called Zull. The only thing we saw was an open Bar.

My brother in law went in and came out, shortly, with a farmer who offered us vacant rooms in his family home since he and his wife were empty nesters and they knew we were tired with no motels nearby.

This nice couple put us up for the night. The next day they even treated us to breakfast, afterwards, we thanked them for their hospility and went outside where it was extremely windy.

As soon as we turned on the car radio we knew something terrible had happened.

The campground we were going to stay at was devastated by the Rapid City Dam bursting the previous night. Prior to drowning under a wall of water, many campers were blissfully, sleeping in their tents. Over 200 folks lost their lives in such a short period of time.

We were very lucky to have escaped their fate!



“Marie Irwin,” Flood of 1972, accessed August 8, 2022,