On Shaky Ground
The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812
Publication Year: 2096
Although most Americans associate earthquakes with California, the tremors that shook the Mississippi valley in southeast Missouri from December 16, 1811, through February 7, 1812, are among the most violent quakes ever to hit the North American continent in recorded history. Collectively known as the New Madrid earthquakes, these quakes affected more than 1 million square miles. By comparison, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake affected only 60,000 square miles, less than one-sixteenth the area of the New Madrid earthquakes.
Scientists believe that each of the three greatest tremors would have measured more than 8.0 on the Richter scale, had that measuring device been in place in 1811. Vibrations were felt from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coast and from Mexico to Canada. The quake zone was in constant movement during this period. Five towns in three states disappeared, islands vanished in the Mississippi River, lakes formed where there had been none before, and the river flowed backward for a brief period.
Providing eyewitness accounts from people both on the land and on the river, Bagnall captures the fears of the residents through their tales about the smells and dark vapors that filled the air, the cries of the people, the bawling of animals, and the constant roar of the river and its collapsing banks. On Shaky Ground also traces the history of the founding of New Madrid and considers the impact of the earthquakes on population and land in southeast Missouri. Predictions for future earthquakes along the New Madrid fault, as well as instructions on preparing for and surviving a quake, are also included.
Informative, clearly written, and well illustrated, On Shaky Ground will be of interest to all general readers, especially those interested in earthquakes or Missouri history.
Published by: University of Missouri Press
Download PDF (28.3 KB)
Download PDF (106.6 KB)
Writing Project at St. Joseph, and Julia Brooke, Director of Pass the Power, a literacy center in St. Joseph. They read this work in an early stage and offered suggestions that I used in the final quake Studies at Southeast Missouri State University, graciously Society of Missouri were of great help in locating pictures for ...
Download PDF (218.9 KB)
...section of Missouri, in the southeastern comer of the state. It lies on the Mississippi River and is much closer to some cities in center of the upside-down U. Across the river to the south, the Kentucky bank is dearly visible. But this part of Kentucky is cut off from the rest of its state by the unusual bend in the river. ...
1. Early History of New Madrid
Download PDF (1.1 MB)
...-Earl A. Collins and Felix Eugene Snider, Missouri: Midland State Indians had lived in the area that is now southeast Missouri for the area. It was a good place to hunt. Black bear, elk, cougar, L'Anse it la Graisse, which means "cove of fat" or "cove of grease," to passing boat crews. Indians also traded there. In the winter, ...
2. The First Quakes
Download PDF (1.6 MB)
...for the people in New Madrid to think that their lives would be spent most of the day in worship. In the early evenin& there may early settlers were French, and after Sunday services they often River just south of New Madrid, reported that for three days prior cold and clear. It was quiet as well. Farmers on the edge of town ...
3. The Earthquake's Reach
Download PDF (846.6 KB)
...than others. Tremors could be felt in two-thirds of what was then the United States and its territories, from the Atlantic on the east were felt strongly at Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, on the Atlantic coast, a distance of some 600 miles. The they were also about 600 miles from the earthquake site, but in ...
4. After the Disaster
Download PDF (393.9 KB)
...populated town in the area, a thriving market town, with stores, trading posts, and active river traffic and commerce. The town's the eastern side of the territory, had a total population of less 1812 to 1,155. Goodspeed's History of Southeast Missouri reports most of their household goods in their hurry to leave the area. ...
5. Earthquake Predictions
Download PDF (828.7 KB)
...- Carolyn V. Platt, "Nightmare on the Mississippi," in Timeline eastern Missouri to near Metropolis, Illinois, on the north. The shifting of the earth's crust. Primary faults, which lie far beneath Richter scale). Each 0.2-unit increase in the scale indicates twice A A lit A H $ AS,' •• : • " • • / 0 0': ,.0 .. 0 , L_ .. __ .. __ :· ...
6. Preparing for an Earthquake
Download PDF (509.3 KB)
...quakes in the United States. The federal government was the first the potential risks of and possible defenses against earthquakes. way, when quakes strike, they can be dealt with on a multistate level, as well as within local areas. This cooperation gives local cities and states if their own emergency systems are put out of ...
7. Toward the Twentieth Century
Download PDF (522.2 KB)
In spite of the dangers that the Mississippi River posed when it overflowed its bounds and changed its course, and in spite of the threat of future earthquakes, people did not stay away long from population in the region increased steadily, especially along the Along the river, the lands were so fertile, trade and transporta ...
8. New Madrid Today
Download PDF (424.7 KB)
...- Lou Hobbs, song lyrics to "Living on the New Madrid Fault Line" other stores and now boasts a discount mall; it became a thriving car on Main Street, walk back home, and then have the car ready This view from the levee shows New Madrid as it looks today. Missouri: A Guide to the "Show-Me" State observes that New Madrid's main streets are at ...
Appendix 1: Mercalli Intensity Scale
Download PDF (150.3 KB)
The Mercalli scale for measuring the intensity of earthquakes was developed in 1902 by an Italian priest and geologist, Giuseppe Mercalli. It was modified in 1931 to include descriptions of damage for modern structures. The Mercalli scale is a method...
Appendix 2: Richter Magnitude Scale
Download PDF (96.5 KB)
The Mercalli scale may be used to describe an earthquake either at its epicenter or at any point in the area into which the effects of the earthquake extend. The Richter scale, devised in 1935 by American seismologist Charles F. Richter, measures the...
For More Reading
Download PDF (347.4 KB)
...(New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1980), is for children, ages four to eight, and is illustrated by Glen Rounds with pencil sketches. It tells about the 2,000-mile voyage of the New Orleans, the first steamboat in western waters (in 1811) and its experience in the reaction to one of the quakes he felt while riding his horse in ...
For More Information
Download PDF (24.5 KB)
Download PDF (336.4 KB)
Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2096
Series Title: MISSOURI HERITAGE READERS
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth