Split Rock Creek Tragedy
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member plainsdrifter358
N 43° 35.203 W 096° 34.079
14T E 696336 N 4828845
Quick Description: A gone-bad attempt to ford Split Rock Creek resulted in four deaths in July 1879, and was one of the most distressing calamities to occur in Minnehaha County during Dakota Territorial times.
Location: South Dakota, United States
Date Posted: 1/16/2007 1:32:48 PM
Waymark Code: WM150F
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member MNSearchers
Views: 61

Long Description:

Split Rock Creek is an unpretentious waterway that rises northeast of Ihlen, MN, and wanders through rich farmlands and quartzite walls until it joins the Big Sioux River approximately two miles southwest of this spot. In July, 1879, this tranquil, pastoral-looking creek demonstrated its hidden power.

Ole Thompson, a wealthy man from Red Wing, MN, his wife Roadi, and teenage daughter Louisa, traveled to Sioux Falls to visit Roadi's sister Susan Lee, her husband E.K. Lee, and their nine-month-old son Clarence. On July 5, the Lee family rode with the Thompsons in their 'covered carriage with a splendid team' to visit Ole's relatives at Beaver Creek, MN. On the outbound journey, fording Split Rock Creek at Thorsten Lee Sandhill Crossing was uneventful.

Split Rock Creek in SDPhoto of Split Rock Creek near the Tragedy Historic Marker, with the Brandon Look-out Tower peeking over the tree tops in the upper right.

On their return trip two days later, the travelers found the creek swollen from recent rains. Believing that they could again safely ford at the crossing, Thompson cautiously guided his team and carriage into the swirling water. Without warning, the raging current seized the carriage, dumped out its occupants, and carried them downstream. Ole and Roadi were the first to drown. E.K. Lee managed to swim ashore, but Susan, who was holding their baby son, struggled. While fighting to save the infant, Susan cried out, 'Lee, for God's sake, save me!' Baby Clarence slipped from her grasp, and both mother and child disappeared in the murky waters.

Another traveler waiting on the west bank for the creek to subside heard Louisa's cries. Without concern for his own safety, George Eells jumped in and swam across the creek to rescue her. Then Eells spotted a small foot breaking the surface of the water and dived into the creek a second time. He reached baby Clarence, carried him to the shore, and tried to resuscitate him, but the infant died in his arms.

The swift-moving creek washed the carriage to the railroad bridge south of this area where it caught on the bridge pilings. In minutes the normally peaceful Split Rock Creek had taken four lives.

Marker Name: Split Rock Creek Tragedy

Marker Type: Other

Marker Text: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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dbrockhouse visited Split Rock Creek Tragedy 10/23/2011 dbrockhouse visited it
wildernessmama visited Split Rock Creek Tragedy 1/4/2011 wildernessmama visited it
plainsdrifter358 visited Split Rock Creek Tragedy 10/25/2006 plainsdrifter358 visited it

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