31 August 2011

125 years ago today - Earthquake

Today marks the 125th anniversary of the devastating Earthquake of 1886. Folks from Charleston tend to portray that it was exclusively their disaster (similar to how the public perceives Hurricane Hugo in 1989). It was not. It affected all of the lowcountry and was felt from Florida to Maine and westward to the Mississippi River.

Q: What happened in Beaufort County?

According to a Beaufort County Historical Society Paper, #11 "Reminiscences of Beaufort Storms" by E. B. Rodgers, read before the Beaufort County Historical Society in June 1950:

* "There was a rumbling from the northwest, then a slight shock, then a more severe shock and it lasted on through the night. The people thought the world had come to an end and rushed out of their houses and hurried to the churches. The white churches would not open. ... However, the Rev. Bythewood of the Tabernacle Baptist Church...opened its doors and to the surprise of all, the whites outnumbered the Negros [sic] in attendance."

* When the first shock came, James Crofut was taking a bath. In his haste to get to the relative safety of the street, he remembered his beaver hat, but forgot his clothes!

* "A tidal wave, twenty feet high, came up Beaufort River towards Port Royal and another down Beaufort River. They met just off Battery Creek and the water dashed high in the air..."

* "In the rivers, the water boiled as in a pot."

* At Red Top [on US Hwy 17 where the Kentucky Fried Chicken is at Wallace Causeway]"a blue fire came out of the ground."

Drop by the BDC to read this, and the other 60 or so Beaufort County Historical Society Papers about significant local events, personages, and places.

Richard Cote's City of Heroes: The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886,(2006) is available at our Hilton Head Branch Library for those who'd like to delve deeper.

Here are two links on the subject of the Charleston Earthquake of 1886 that I've mentioned in past Connections entries:
What Happened in 1886?
The Charleston Earthquake Tour has fascinating images of the quake's aftermath.

There's a brand new web exhibit to visit today as well. The Medical University of South Carolina Archives posted a digital exhibit of their materials regarding the medical response to the earthquake in Charleston called "Faults and Fractures" just this morning.

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