125th Anniversary of the 1886 Charleston Earthquake

By: palmettobug53 , 4:22 PM GMT on August 31, 2011

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I am revisiting the 2006 blog that I'd put up for the 120th anniversary. Sorry, but all the images I had in that header have winked out and I'm not going to hunt them down again. There is a link to an archive of images at the St. Louis University lower down as well as a link to more images at the Lowcountry Digital Library.

I have added a couple of new links, including one from the Waring Library at MUSC. See below.


Though I was just a lad at the time, I vividly recall the sensations of the moment and many heart-rending incidents of that night of terror. In view of the sharp intensity of the shock and its destroying affect, I do not hesitate to assert that the temblor which wrecked Charleston was more severe than that of April 18 last, and in relative destruction considerably worse.

It was about 9:50 o�clock on the evening of August 31, 1886, that the people of Charleston felt the quiverings of the first earthquake shock ever known in that part of the country. They had just returned from worship and not many had yet retired.

The day had been an exceedingly hot one and the evening was unusually sultry, with such a profound stillness in the air that it provoked general remark.

The temblor came lightly with a gentle vibration of the houses as when a cat trots across the floor; but a very few seconds of this and it began to come in sharp jolts and shocks which grew momentarily more violent until buildings were shaken as toys. Frantic with terror, the people rushed from the houses, and in so doing many lost their lives from falling chimneys or walls. With one mighty wrench, which did most of the damage, the shock passed. It had been accompanied by a low, rumbling noise, unlike anything ever heard before, and its duration was about one minute.

No need to tell of the horrors of that moment or of those succeeding. The fact that lighter shocks continued at frequent intervals throughout the long, dreary night kept the nerves of all keyed to such a high tension that it is not strange that several persons lost their reason.


Paul Pinckney in Lessons Learned from the Charleston Quake



As you walk around the residential streets in downtown Charleston, you will see many old buildings that had earthquake rods installed after the 1886 quake. Some are decorative and some are plain. Some are not real. They are simply there for show; they were not installed for stability but for charm.

Once you know what to look for, you can find evidence of the earthquake everywhere. Repair jobs can be spotted by rather large zig zags in the mortar work on the sides of houses and buildings. Sometimes you'll notice a slight difference in the shade of the bricks that were used for the repairs.


This is a collection of photos of the quake damage maintained at St. Louis University.

Here are some more photos from the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Excerpt from City of Heroes: The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886 by Richard Cote.

Damage at the Medical College of S.C., now called the Medical University of S.C. (My employer)

USGS: S.C. Earthquake Information

Article in the Post and Courier Aug 31, 2011. There will be another, more in depth article in Sunday's paper.

Here it is: One Night That Changed Charleston Forever

Faults and Fractures- The Medical Response to the Charleston Earthquake of 1886, an MUSC online exhibit to commemmorate the 125th anniversary of the quake.








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25. OGal
7:07 PM GMT on September 07, 2011



Hi Bug, just popping in to tell you I am thinking about you. Have nothiing clever to tell you or say. The tennis matches have been canceled at the US Open so they are showing old matches on ESPN. Yuckers. Oh well maybe the rain will leave NYC tomorrow.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 72 Comments: 19224
24. palmettobug53
4:32 PM GMT on September 07, 2011
I need to put up a new entry before the weekend. Best think on it a bit. It won't be fancy. More of a chit chat blog for a bit.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
23. palmettobug53
4:07 PM GMT on September 07, 2011
Hi, Sandi,

Doing a really quick zip through WU.

It never fails; anytime you've got leave planned, you get hit with an avalanche of unexpected work the last day or two.

I don't know if I'm coming or going.

I see we now have Maria on the Cape Verde Railway. It looks like Katia has made the turn away from SC and I am praying Maria follows the same route. I do NOT want to be dealing with her next week.

Gotta go say "hi" to Dad.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
22. sandiquiz
3:35 PM GMT on September 07, 2011
Bug - Happy hump day ....


Bye Bug :)

Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 300 Comments: 27073
21. palmettobug53
4:32 PM GMT on September 06, 2011
Hi, ylee.

We've gotten some rain, too. A little bit last night sometime in the wee hours and then some more this morning after I got to work. How much, I don't know. I'll have to check my gauge when I get home.

Busy, busy, busy today. Anytime we have a long weekend, the workload is heavier when we get back.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
20. Ylee
1:47 PM GMT on September 06, 2011
For supposedly a small tropical storm, Lee sure is causing a lot of weather in a large area! We're getting rain and clouds from it over here in W. Ky., as well!
Hope work goes well for you today!
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 98 Comments: 16549
19. palmettobug53
4:08 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Good for you, Sandi!

Don't you love it when you find something you like and it fits well. And in a smaller size?

It will look lovely, worn with a vest in white or a complementary color.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
18. sandiquiz
1:46 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Happy Monday Bug:)

Hope you get all your "household chores" completed.
I went into town today. I wanted a new outfit to wear for a special occasion - (I'll mail you all about it) - but hate wearing skirts. I found the most gorgeous wide cotton trews in a delicate floral pattern, which look like a long, flowing skirt. The top is in organdie and can be fastened or loose like a jacket with a vest underneath.

And what was more - it fitted perfectly in a smaller size than I thought I might need! LOL
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 300 Comments: 27073
17. palmettobug53
1:24 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Yesterday's paper had another article on the 1886 Earthquake. Within the story there is a link to compare photos from then and now. Another link is to questions and answers with Norman Levine, a geology professor. I'm adding a link to the header.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
16. palmettobug53
1:20 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Happy Labor Day, everyone.

I guess most folks will be out and about today for cookouts and other activities, if the weather is fine.

I'll be finishing up some household chores. Hubby is at work, though I think his day will be a short one.

We've got about a 50% possibility of afternoon/evening T-storms. I'm not sure if they will be courtesy of TD Lee or if they're just your general run-of-the-mill summer storms.

Lee is still be dumping lots of rain in the Deep South, with all the associated flooding issues.

Katia is chugging along out in the Atlantic. It looks like she will miss us (fingers crossed) but, if she doesn't make her forecasted turn north around Thursday, may impact the mid-Atlantic states. We'll just have to wait and see.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
15. palmettobug53
3:04 PM GMT on September 04, 2011
Hi, Shore. Glad to see you're enjoying some really cool temps. That's almost chilly enough to break out the longjohns!

Sheesh..... I can't believe anyone would fall for a something like that. They tell you about these things all the time in the papers and on TV. What planet does that woman live on, that she's missed hearing about them? I'd never, EVER buy something from someone in a parking lot. Anything that sounds too good to be true, ISN'T.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
14. shoreacres
1:25 PM GMT on September 04, 2011
Morning, bug! It's just 78, cloudy and breezy here. Every window in the place is open! I'm just getting started with my day but did have to bring you this little shopping story from your lovely state. ;-)
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
13. palmettobug53
12:56 PM GMT on September 04, 2011
Hi, Sandi.

Enjoy your leftovers and then get settled back into your normal routine and diet. You've had a lot of company and richer foods lately.

It's a lovely 75F here this morning and the high is only supposed to be about 86F. If I can get my inside chores finished up, this is perfect weather for doing some of those much needed outside chores. Tomorrow is supposed to be about the same, except there's a possibility of rain. If I don't get to the yard today, I will, tomorrow.

Had a nice visit with my cousin yesterday. I hadn't been over for a few weeks. I was up at Dad's weekend before last and not feeling quite up to snuff last weekend.

I spent the rest of the day washing clothes, putting them out, bringing them in. Made a run to the grocer, as Hubby opted for a 'roast beast' with all the trimmings today.

Last night was BBC night again. It was back to Lark Rise to Candlefort, Sherlock Holmes, Last of the Summer Wine, etc. There had been a hiatus, while PBS was soliciting donatations and pledges to help keep them on the air. I understand the need but they interrupt their regular programming while it is going on.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
12. sandiquiz
12:29 PM GMT on September 04, 2011
Morning to you...have you worked out what to prepare to eat today and tomorrow?

I will be eating leftovers from last night today, and Monday I shall be on something simple - like an omelette!! I don't want to turn on the oven for several days!

Katia seems to have slowed down and has dropped back to a TS. she is still a long way out, and might yet come "too close for comfort" - but hope not!

Happy "long weekend" - our was last weekend!
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 300 Comments: 27073
11. palmettobug53
12:49 PM GMT on September 03, 2011
Good morning!

Katia's track seems to be lifting a little more to the north. Fingers crossed for SC. Nail biting for NC and points north.

We may get some of Lee's rain on Tuesday. I sure wish he'd turned west, so that the parched folks in TX could have benefited more from the precip. They need it more than we do. Not that I want them to have a storm, with a capital S, but they are so hot and dry.

We don't have any specific plans for Labor Day activities except household and yard labor. Take advantage of the long weekend to do some chores that dont seem to get done on the normal 2 day weekends.

I'll be going over to visit my cousin this morning.

I need to decide what to do for dinner tomorrow and Monday. We 'catch as catch can' for meals on Saturdays. If you're hungry, fix a sandwich!
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
10. palmettobug53
4:40 PM GMT on September 02, 2011
Happy Friday, everyone.

I am NOT liking that forecast track for Katia. A little too close for comfort.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
9. Proserpina
11:00 PM GMT on September 01, 2011
Photobucket
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 177 Comments: 18431
8. GardenGrrl
8:49 PM GMT on September 01, 2011
Trade ya 67f for 102f. And perhaps could Texas borrow a rain cloud or two?
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 260 Comments: 9980
7. palmettobug53
4:17 PM GMT on September 01, 2011
"Wabbit, Wabbit, Wabbit, everybody," said Elmer Fudd.

Thank you, Sandi. white rabbits back at you!

Twiggy still looks pretty good, doesn't she?

Ylee, yes, Sandi is quick. She's also about 5 hours ahead of us. That's how she gets her rabbits in before everyone else.

It is lovely outside today. I feel like a bug some kid has bunged into a Mason jar for show and tell.

Wouldja believe it was 67F outside this morning around 5:30? Downright chilly!
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
6. Ylee
9:03 AM GMT on September 01, 2011
Sept. 1st slipped up on me, and Sandi beat me to the punch to say White Rabbits x 3!(She's quick, you know, lol!)
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 98 Comments: 16549
5. sandiquiz
7:19 AM GMT on September 01, 2011


Good morning - White Rabbits, White Rabbits, White Rabbits and a very happy and safe month to you!

PS - Twiggy is one of the faces of Marks and Spencer advertising.... M&S is a very big, and popular chain store her in the UK.


Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 300 Comments: 27073
4. palmettobug53
2:01 AM GMT on September 01, 2011
Ylee, my family on both sides were all in SC at the time but I don't think any of them lived in Charleston. Some were in and around Orangeburg, SC. The rest were all in the Upstate around Westminster and Clemson. Still, it was felt all over the state. Up and down the Eastern Seaboard and all the way to the Mississippi, for that matter. Just like folks here felt the New Madrid.

I've heard no stories about it, though. I might ask my Dad if he recalls ever hearing his grandparents mention anything about it. My grandparents weren't born yet or were only a year or two old at the time.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
3. Ylee
1:51 AM GMT on September 01, 2011
Wow, 7.3 is pretty dang stout! Of course, everybody's heard of New Madrid, but Charleston's quake was nothing to laugh at, especially with the impact to all the people that lived around there.

Did any of your ancestors live there at the time, and if so, was there any oral history?
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 98 Comments: 16549
2. palmettobug53
5:19 PM GMT on August 31, 2011
I'm going to have to redo at least one of those links after I get home tonight. It is old and no longer works. I slapped this up while I was eating lunch.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389
1. palmettobug53
4:31 PM GMT on August 31, 2011
Thanks to all that posted in my previous entry. I've got some good suggestions for books to get at the library. I hope ya'll got some, too.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25389

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About palmettobug53

WU member since Oct. 2005. I enjoy reading, crafts, crosswords, puttering in the yard, old movies and hanging out with my friends on WU.

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