On August 17, `1959 - I was only 3 years old when I woke up in the middle of the night. Our whole house was shaking and things were falling off of walls and shelves. It was dark - I think the electricity went out, but I heard my mother scurrying around the house catching things. The earthquake measured 7.5 on the Richter scale and triggered a massive landslide that blocked the Madison River. We lived approximately 100 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.
Although the earthquake took place 50 years ago, there are still dead standing trees that used to be on the shore of the Madison River.
28 people lost their lives when 80 million tons of rock crashed down on a campground and a gigantic wall of water swept through the area.
The diagram above shows how the mountainside fell away and slid across to the other side. Below, you can see the gaping scar on the mountainside. I took this picture while standing on the part of the mountain that moved across the canyon.
Looking North - from the top of the earthquake made dam - you can see the Madison River heading down the valley. The Army Corps of Engineers dug a channel in the earthquake formed dam to allow the river to continue to flow. Apparently, the water is eroding the dam, and the level of the lake is dropping. They predict that within 2 centuries, Earthquake Lake will be gone and it will be a river again, looking much like it did before the earthquake.
I picked up a few rock fragments from this site . . . . the ideas are flowing! The rocks are small enough to be embellishments on a quilt, and my experience with the earthquake looms large after revisiting it this summer.