At was 11:37 p.m. 58 years ago August 17th that the Yellowstone earthquake happened and a major landslide in the Madison River Canyon killed at least 28 people. The quake was felt in eight Northwest states.
The 1959 event has become known by many Montanans as the the Night the Mountain Fell, a title used by a paperback book written by journalist Ed Christopherson.
The temblor that created Yellowstone’s “Quake Lake” was brought to mind recently by an earthquake earlier this year in Lincoln, Montana. That quake was minor compared to the size of the Yellowstone earthquake. The Hebgen Lake Earthquake measured 7.5 on the richter scale and caused the side of a mountain to slide across a narrow canyon, burying people who were spending the summer night in a public campground.
The slide also blocked the Madison River, creating a lake. The Army Corps of Engineers were called in to build a spillway to partially drain Earthquake Lake.
Effects of the earthquake are clearly visible even now, almost 60 years later. The Visitor’s Center even has a working seismograph, where you can see how Earth trembles every day.
The area is an interesting stop on your next visit to Yellowstone Park.