Missouri Earthquakes

When we think of earthquakes, we think of California, but the most powerful earthquakes America ever experienced occurred in Missouri between December 1811 and March 1812. The strongest, a fantastic 8.8-magnitude, happened on February 7th, 1812.

Photo by Shefali Lincoln

“Church bells rang in Boston, thousands of miles away, from the shaking. Brick walls were toppled in Cincinnati. In the Mississippi River, water turned brown and whirlpools developed suddenly from the depressions created in the riverbed. Waterfalls were created in an instant; in one report, 30 boats were helplessly thrown over falls, killing the people on board. Many of the small islands in the middle of the river, often used as bases by river pirates, permanently disappeared. Large lakes, such as Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee and Big Lake at the Arkansas-Missouri border, were created by the earthquake as river water poured into new depressions.”[1]

Over 1,000 people died (although an accurate count is impossible to record). Residents began living in tents so the debris of a collapsing building wouldn’t harm them. During the February 7th trembler, the Mississippi River ran backward for several hours due to a fluvial tsunami!

There is something very eerie about an earthquake. We have learned to count on the earth being under our feet. We rely on it to be there, but earthquakes cause the earth to betray us. Some people develop seismophobia, “the extreme, often irrational fear of earthquakes.”[2]

On the other hand, Paul and Silas were rescued, and the Philippian Jailer became a Christian following an earthquake (Acts 16). Earthquakes herald the majesty of God throughout the book of Revelation (Revelation 6:12; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:18).

I am a firm believer that challenges are opportunities. Yes, I duck for cover during an earthquake, but perhaps earthquakes teach us the only One we can truly rely on is the Lord God Almighty!

[1] https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/earthquake-causes-fluvial-tsunami-in-mississippi

[2] https://www.fearof.net/fear-of-earthquakes-phobia-seismophobia/

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