The terrifying shaking of the main shock lasted lasted for just under one minute but its trail of destruction caused over $5 million dollars of damage. There were ten shocks in all, each less violent than its predecessor, but equally horrifying in their impact on the inhabitants of Charleston.
The Charleston Earthquake for kids: The Richter Scale
The Charleston Earthquake: Loss of Life
Facts about the Charleston Earthquake for kids
It occurred at about 9:50 p.m. on August 31, 1886 and measured between 6.6 and 7.3 on the Richter scale
During the event the telegraph system destroyed and railroad tracks destroyed leaving Charleston was cut off from the rest of the country
Fires started in several quarters and the limited number of fire fighters had difficulty gaining control
Many people were in bed and awoken by a deep, subterraneous rumbling noise. The earth then shook and quivered and the frightened Charlestonians ran into the streets.
Within minutes approximately 50,000 people, men, women, and children, ran into the streets, not daring to return to their houses when the shaking stopped
People ran in panic from the streets to the open squares of the city to avoid being crushed by the falling buildings.
Over 2000 buildings were damaged or destroyed leaving over 25,000 people homeless and destitute. They were forced to live in tents.
Many people believed the day of judgment had come and it was the end of the world. They couldn't seek comfort in the churches as these had been destroyed.
The effects of the shocks threw the covers off wells and great geysers of mud and water burst across the city.
At the end of the quake two-thirds of the city required rebuilding. The nation responded to the plight of the Charlestonians and contributions were sent to the city by way of money and provisions
The news of the disaster reached the rest of the world and Queen Victoria telegraphed her sympathy to President Grover Cleveland.
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