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The Missouri River Flood of 1881

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Spring Flood in Yankton and Vermillion, 1881
Images Courtesy Yankton County Historical Society

In March of 1881, winter ice on the Missouri River between Pierre, South Dakota and Omaha, Nebraska broke with disastrous consequences. Huge floating chunks of ice jammed the river channel, creating ice dams that held back that season's copious amount of meltwater. When those dams broke, the water was released and low-lying areas in towns like Yankton and Vermillion quickly found themselves inundated.

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