The New Madrid Earthquakes

The New Madrid Earthquakes were a series of massive quakes which occurred in 1811/12. They were felt over 1,000 miles away. Fortunately, they didn't cause much damage because hardly anybody lived in the area at the time. If they were to happen now, they would cause unspeakable amounts of destruction. This would be a nightmare for insurance companies, who are well aware of this risk, and thus most policies include language excluding earthquake damage or having very high deductibles. Aware of all this, and noticing that we'd be going past the town of New Madrid, where these quakes were centered, I convinced my chums to stop by for a look. One of them took the photo of me by the historical marker, the earthquake part of which reads:

The New Madrid Earthquake, made up of a series of monstrous and lesser quakes, which began December 16, 1811, and continued over a year, centered here. One of the great earthquakes of the world because of severity and length it caused little loss of life in a thinly settled region. Some of the shocks were felt as far as 1100 miles. Reelfoot Lake across the river is a result of the disaster. New Madrid land certificates, good for public land elsewhere, were provided sufferers by the U.S. relief act, 1815, which benefited mostly speculators.

I won't reiterate all the history of the quakes, which you can read at the usually-reliable wikipedia. If you're in the area, you can stop by the interesting little New Madrid Historical Museum, look at the exhibits and get one of the "It's Our Fault" t-shirts.

Page last updated 3/5/2014

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