Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Quake Lake

August 17 is the 50-year anniversary of the 1959 Hebgen Earthquake, a 7.5 magnitude quake that is the largest (yet) recorded in the Rocky Mountains.

It happened in the dead of night, just outside Yellowstone National Park, and caused a rockslide along the Madison River that buried an occupied campground and spread across the entire canyon, blocking the river, and creating a new lake which was quickly given the moniker, "Quake Lake." Downstream, Hebgen Lake tilted down at the north and the entire lake sloshed back and forth for almost twelve hours.

Some photos here from the University of Utah
Short video from the Billings Gazette


Ed Darrell said...

Wow. Regret I missed the anniversary. Was there any significant news coverage? It sure didn't hit here in Dallas.

We lived in Burley, Idaho. Our cocker spaniel, Peanuts, started howling about 8:00 p.m. and kept it up until after the earthquake. My mother woke up to a shaking bed and thought my father was having a heart attack, and jumped to the phone to call an ambulance (long before 911; she'd just call the operator). But when she got to the kitchen, she found the door swinging, and figured a heart attack wouldn't do that. Both my father and I slept through it. I think all my siblings woke up.

We had been through Yellowstone in 1956, but I don't remember that trip. We went in 1960, and well I remember people at various thermal features, complaining about how the quake had ruined them, or discussing how the quake had brought them to life.

I had a great aunt living in Sandy, Utah -- a family of her neighbors were buried in the landslide at Hebgen Lake.

Thanks for the memory jog!

Scott Hanley said...

I found articles on the Montana and Idaho media websites, but didn't hear anything nationally. A bit surprising, since it's such a major earthquake and has enough of a death toll to be a glamor story.

Thanks for adding your memories.

James Hanley said...

You forgot to add that it's also my anniversary. And that I have property just west of there.

How's that for some entirely meaningless coincidences?