STURGIS — Road crews from the South Dakota Department of Transportation worked this week to clean up a rockslide that occurred July 12 in Boulder Canyon near Sturgis. 

“The rockslide happened about 11 o’clock Friday night,” said Greg Boness, maintenance supervisor with the SDDOT for the Sturgis-Deadwood area.

Boness said he surmises the rockslide was cause by the ground becoming oversaturated from all the rainfall the Hills have seen this year.

“What happens is the ground is saturated, of course, and the water kind of works its way through the cracks of the sediment that’s in between the larger rocks and weakens them,” he explained. “The more moisture we get, it loosens them more; they start falling, a few smaller ones take a few bigger ones, and then a few bigger ones take the bigger ones yet, and then everything starts coming down.”

Boness estimated 200 to 300 tons of rock was displaced during this rockslide, making it the largest of the five rockslides he and his crew have responded to in the Hills so far this year.

“I hope that’s the only big one,” he said.

Boness said many large boulders bounced across the highway, denting the guardrail, and rolled down into Bear Butte Creek, which runs along the road. The road itself appeared to have no damage, however.

Boness said once the road crew finished clearing the rock and debris from the side of the road, they would be installing several concrete barriers along the area to stop any further falling rocks from reaching the highway until a more permanent solution can be enacted.

“There is some spots up there that are kind of suspect, but we’re going to do everything to stop any problems,” he said. “As long as we think there’s going to be a problem with it, we’ll leave them (the barriers) there.”

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