It was 59 years ago today that Montana showed why it is the most seismically active state in the lower 48.
One of western and southwestern Montana’s 90 fault lines broke loose.
It shook the earth at 7.5 magnitude.
The earthquake killed 28 people.
The quake kicked out a massive landslide that lunged down on the Rock Creek Campground to the west of Yellowstone National Park.
The force dammed the Madison River. It created Quake Lake and set off 200 geysers in the park.
50 campers filled the Rock Creek Campground to capacity when the landslide buried parts of the grounds.
Dennis Richardson witnessed the Hebgen Lake Earthquake. He spoke to NBC Montana last year.
“The earthquake happened in the night. I was sleeping in the center bedroom on the top bunk and my sister was on the bottom bunk. It dumped me out of bed. All the kitchen cabinets opened up. The dishes went onto the floor. Everything that could break, broke. It was a real mess,” said Richardson.
The Gallatin History Museum in Bozeman has newspaper clippings that remember the fateful day.
The museum’s research coordinator, Rachel Phillips, said she’s met numerous survivors and their stories will never be forgotten.
“That’s one thing that people around here that grew up here that been here for a while really remember. Everyone remembers where they were on that night that woke up a lot of people in Bozeman and Gallatin County,” she said.
Phillips said the museum held a 50th anniversary event in 2010 where many survivors spoke.
The Hebgen Lake Earthquake is still Montana’s largest recorded earthquake.
It dropped parts of a nearby highway into Hebgen Lake.