Flooding Destruction in the River Valley

In the spring of 1952, as work proceeded on Oahe dam, the Missouri River reminded river valley residents once again about the perils of building homes, farms and communities along one of the most flood-prone rivers in the hemisphere.

By 1952 Omaha was protected by a massive flood wall and much of the city escaped severe flooding, but other communities weren’t so fortunate. Bismarck and Pierre experienced their worst floods ever. Sioux City’s downtown district was submerged by water. All 5,500 residents of South Sioux City, Nebraska –across the river from Sioux City- were evacuated and the entire city was flooded. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farm fields along the river were flooded. More than 20,000 families were forced from their homes. Again, the political impetus to build dams and control the river increased.

Sioux City April
Sioux City flooded

The photos, courtesy of Sioux City Public Museum, show Sioux City, Iowa and the Missouri River in 1952. This was an important commercial area along the river and it was entirely under water. The Missouri River flooded businesses, homes and one of the world's largest stockyards.