Sunday, November 29, 2015

Re: [Geology2] SANDS OF TIME: The Earthquake of 1755

The Cape Ann Quake happened 2-1/2 weeks after the Lisbon Quake.... hmmmmmmmmmmm.

On Sun, Nov 29, 2015 at 4:22 PM, Lin Kerns [geology2] <> wrote:

  • SANDS OF TIME: The Earthquake of 1755
  • By Brett Robinson
    Co-curator, Pembroke Historical Society

    Posted Nov. 28, 2015

    Last week's minor earthquake near Holliston was notable not just for its rarity, but its timing. The ever so tiny 1.5-magnitude tremor came almost exactly 260 years after the most powerful earthquake to ever hit the eastern United States struck off of Cape Ann. The Holliston quake came around 8 p.m.on Nov. 17, 2015. The Cape Ann earthquake? November 18, 1755. 4 a.m.local time. Almost exactly 260 years.
Truly eerie.

And although there were no reports of shaking in Pembroke this time around, 260 years ago, our little town certainly felt like they were at the epicenter of the massive 6.0-magnitude earthquake that rattled the eastern seaboard. As Shelly Barclay of the Boston History Examiner wrote in a 2010 article about the 1755 quake, "[t]he Massachusetts towns of Pembroke, Lancaster and Scituate suffered cracks in the ground. In Pembroke, some of the cracks spewed water and sand." Truly scary stuff for folks not used to such shattering events!

Historian Sidney Perley includes the Great Earthquake of 1755 as one of his "Historic Storms of New England" because quite frankly, it really was a terrible storm for the unsuspecting people of the region. "People were in a state of extreme fright, thinking that the earth was in process of dissolution, and a writer of that time said, 'I walked out about sunrise, and every face looked ghastly.

In fine, some of our solid and pious gentlemen had such an awe and gloom spread over their countenances as would have checked the gay airs of the most intrepid.' It is said that in those regions where earthquakes are very common and to be expected, the people are terrorized by them, no familiarity with them removing the awful feeling.

No danger of alarm so disturbs a person, and no thought is so terrible as that of the earth crumbling to pieces beneath our feet. 'What is safe,' exclaimed the wise Seneca, 'if the solid earth itself cannot be relied upon?' This feeling disturbed the people of New England more than it would the inhabitants of tropical regions.

Animals were also alarmed at the mysterious and awful motions of the ground, and the oxen and cows lowed and hastened to the barns, the only source of protection that they knew, or ran about the fields when no place of refuge offered. Dogs went to their masters' doors and howled, not knowing what else to do; and birds left their perches, and flew into the air, fluttering there a long time, afraid to again alight on the earth.

The ocean along the coast was affected as perceptibly as the land, and ships in the harbor at Portsmouth, N.H., were shaken so fiercely that the sailors who were asleep in their berths were rudely awakened, their first thought being that they had struck upon a rock. The river there was also in a similar state of agitation.

"At New Haven, Conn., the ground moved with an undulating motion like the waves of the sea; and the houses shook and cracked as if about to fall. Mather Byles said, 'It was a terrible night, the most so, perhaps that ever New England saw.'

"The damage done by this earthquake was far greater than that caused by any other that has been experienced here. The vibratory motion of the earth was so great and sudden that pewter dishes were thrown from the dressers, many clocks were stopped, and the vane-rod on Faneuil hall in Boston, and those on some of the churches, were bent.
Much stone wall throughout the country was thrown down, and the shaking of the earth caused a change in the subterranean streams, in consequence of which many wells dried up. The principal damage consisted of the destruction of chimneys, no portion of New England being free from it. In Boston, alone, about one hundred were leveled with the roofs of the houses, and in all about fifteen hundred were shattered and partly thrown down, the streets in some places being almost covered with the fallen bricks. The chimneys were dislocated in all sorts of ways, some being broken several feet from the top, and partly turned as though there had been a swivel at the place. Others fell on the roofs, the sections broken off remaining intact, and having slipped down to the eaves jutted over, being just ready to fall. The roofs of some of the houses were broken in by the chimneys. The wooden buildings were much damaged by being racked, and many in Boston were thrown down.

Brick buildings were injured most; and in Boston the gable ends of twelve or fifteen were knocked down to the eaves. In spite of the great danger and many narrow escapes, no person or animal was killed or seriously injured."

Aftershocks continued for four more days, carrying on the great state of fear that had fallen over New England. But as with all earthquakes, those eventually subsided, and people returned to their regular routines, with a solid earth beneath their feet. That is, until Dec. 19, when two or three more aftershocks interrupted an otherwise calm evening. That was the last of it. But the folks of our region had been changed. "Educated and ignorant people alike were greatly frightened; and it is said that Rev. Mr. Richardson, then minister at Wells, Maine, died from fear at this time.

"The prospect of death turned the minds of the people toward those things that cannot be shaken, and the clergymen improved the opportunity to make a religious impression upon them. Many were led to reflect on the lives they had led, and to seek reconciliation with their Maker, the church membership being considerably increased."

Quotes and information for this column can be found at: Barclay, Shelly. "Cape Ann Earthquake in Boston: Part one." Boston History Examiner. August 30, 2010.
Perley, Sidney. "Historic Storms of New England." The Salem Press Publishing and Printing Co. 1891.



Posted by: Kim Noyes <>


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