Communicated: The Earthquake

The geographical extent of this phenomenon we cannot yet determine, except to the northeast and east.  From those quarters we have seen both letters and newspapers dated since the 16th inst.  From these it would appear that no shock was felt farther north in the eastern part of this state than about 39 degrees 45 minutes.  The newspapers from Worthington and New Lisbon in 40 degrees, or upwards, are entirely silent as to this occurrence.  At Pittsburg and Washington (Pa.) however, which are something more than 40 degrees, it was felt, but in a slight degree.  At the latter place but one shock, it appears, was experienced.  East of the Alleghenies, from Newark in Jersey to the Federal City, it was not felt, and there is no probability that it occurred in any part of the Atlantic states.  In the central parts of Kentucky it was at least as violent as at this place, and at Louisville, 100 miles to the west; it appears to have been even more violent.
We at first suspected that this convulsion either had its origin under Lake Ontario, which for several reasons is supposed to be the crater of an extinguished volcano; or to the west, among the mountains of north Mexico and the western confine of Louisiana, which are known to be very high and volcanic; or in the West Indies, which are subject to dreadful earthquakes.  Report, however, fixed the centre of convulsion among the mountains of the Great Kenhawa and Sandy Rivers, which are spurs of the Allegheny chain; and this appeared probable, as inflammable air is known to issue from the ground in several places in that region. 

We now know, however, that no disruption occurred there.

As no vibrations were felt in the Atlantic states it is certain that Lake Ontario was not the focus, and probable that the centre was not in the West Indies; for they lie nearer to the middle maritime states than to this country.  There are strong reasons therefore, to suppose that the concussion was more violent westwardly and that the most destructive convulsions have occurred in a region but thinly inhabited. 

We are just informed, since writing the preceding, that between the hours of 4 and 5 o’clock this morning, another shock of the earthquake was felt by many of our citizens.  It rocked the beds gently for a few seconds.


Tuesday morning December 31, 1811.

Made possible by the Rivers Institute and the
History Department of Hanover College.


How to cite this article:  "Communicated: The Earthquake," Liberty Hall (Cincinnati, Ohio), 1 Jan. 1812, p. 3, available at