Photos: How teens helped save Stillwater from historic flooding 54 years ago

Encroaching flood waters, Teenager's Dike and downtown Stillwater.
Encroaching floodwaters, Teenager's Dike and downtown Stillwater are seen from a hill above town in the 1965 photograph.
Howard Peulen | Courtesy of the Peulen Family

Teenagers, college students, Stillwater residents and state prisoners worked together to save Stillwater in the spring of 1965: They built a dike.

Hundreds of people spent days building an 8-foot dike as the swollen St.Croix crept up and up and up, eventually spilling over its banks.

By Easter Sunday — April 18 — the river crested to a record 694.07 feet.

The dike held floodwaters from swallowing their downtown.

Stillwater resident and hobby photographer Howard Peulen captured it all. He took his camera to the aptly-coined "Teenager's Dike" as his son Bob, now 77, filled sandbags.

"He took pictures all over the St. Croix, that was his passion," Bob Peulen recalled this week.

Stillwater High School let students out of class to build the dike and college students from the Twin Cities came to help the community prepare. They often worked until 2 a.m.

"It's part of being a community I guess. Stillwater was that way then," Bob said.

The city minted commemorative coins to remember the flood; one specifically for Teenager's Dike, which served as a ticket for a show by The Kinks at the Stillwater Armory.

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