In the middle of the United States, a sequence of events began, startling a young
nation and puzzling scientists up to the present. During the early morning hours of
December 16, 1811, the first New Madrid earthquakes shook the country.
Not one, but a series of quakes from December 1811 until February 1812, were felt
over vast distances. These earthquakes brought an awareness to natural phenomena
rarely experienced by Americans up to that time, influencing how people looked at
nature, and, for people on the frontier, providing a source of terror and amazement.
The New Madrid area was still part of the American Frontier, with the Louisiana Territory
purchased in 1804. Population was sparse at the earthquake location.
The three great quakes were on December 16, 1811, January 23rd, 1812, and February
of 1812, with numerous aftershocks felt between the major earthquakes.
Our New Madrid Compendium has MANY eyewitness accounts gleaned from journal entries,
diaries, letters to the editors of major newspapers, etc.
Damage was widespread, settlement was delayed in the damaged area, the Mississippi
River was damaged due to log jams and mudslides, and Reelfoot Lake was created.