The Night the Mountain Fell
September 11, 2009
In August of 1959, I lived in Hardin, Montana. As I was close to starting my senior year in high school, and of course feeling very grown-up, I was a tad late for my curfew on this summer’s night of August 17. In my room in the basement of our family home, I crawled into bed at exactly 11:37 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time). Suddenly, my bed began to shake. I thought my dog was underneath it scratching an itch. However, a quick glance confirmed that he wasn’t to blame. I lay back down thinking it must have been an earthquake and then fell asleep. My parents didn’t feel anything. The next morning, news was out about the tremblor. News and reliable facts were slow coming in, as was help from the outside since the main road was blocked by a huge landslide. Many other roads were ripped apart. Yes, there had been an earthquake -- a big one, 7.5 on the Richter Scale! The quake caused an entire mountainside to slide away (shown above); covering a campground, blocking the Madison River and damaging Hebgen Dam, which is just outside Yellowstone National Park. It also affected the geyser system in Yellowstone; causing some to cease and dormant ones come to life again. Photo taken on July 10, 2009, from the Madison Canyon Visitor Center parking lot.