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[The earthquake news from Japan is still developing. Find out the latest here.]

As most of you know, likely firsthand, earthquakes in Indianapolis and Indiana are not unusual although they are infrequent. The strongest quakes to have hit what would become the Hoosier state occurred in December and January 1811/12. These four quakes were among the strongest earthquakes ever to have hit the US, measuring around 7.1-8.0. As the stories go, the Mississippi River ran backwards for days and changed location, church bells rang in Boston, and squirrels dropped their nuts.

The strongest earthquake to strike Indianapolis since becoming a populated place was on the morning of Halloween, 1895. It was centered in Charleston, Missouri and measured up to 6.7. At 5:11am, Indianapolis residents were awoken by three shocks lasting a total of about 44 seconds. While no building damage was reported here, it must have been an experience, especially for those in the upper stories of the increasing number of tall buildings in the city. Fortunately for Indianapolis, the only notable result of the earthquake was an unexpected spike in natural gas production for the many gas wells around the area.

The extent of the 1895 earthquake compared to a more recent equivilant-strength quake in California (from wikipedia)

Indianapolis also felt a strong quake in 1899, centered in the Wabash Valley. It too did no damage in the city, though it must have rattled some nerves having occurred only 4 years from the previous one.

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was also felt in Indianapolis, though it did not shake the city. Our citizens and businesses offered their support for the devasted city. Notable efforts included Eli Lilly sending a train of medicines and supplies to San Francisco, the first, but not the last, time the company had provided disaster relief.

Earthquakes have shook the city roughly every 7-10 years over the past century. Does any one have memorable experiences to share?

On another note, coming next Friday we are planning a new monthly feature showcasing the history and architecture of various places around the state. Check it out.

 

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