The Earthquake

still continues to alarm the country. It is the opinion of many persons of observations that, altho' 3 months have now elapsed since its commencement, there have not passed many hours together without concussions of the earth.

On the first day there happened eleven shocks and during another 24 hours 14 shocks were distinctly noticed. But the damage we ourselves have sustained from these repeated convulsions of nature is almost too trifling to be named. Not so on the Mississippi, where effects the most alarming have been seen and felt. Accounts from various points of that quarter, tho' not perhaps, altogether correctly; preserve a tolerable agreement in their general detail. The shock experienced here and throughout the United States in the morning of the 7th of Feb. was, by far, the most violent of the hundreds perceived before or since.

Travellers are continually arriving from the lower country, with distressing accounts. From a number of them, with which we have conversed, we learn that the Little Prairie (a settlement 30 miles below N. Madrid) is now from 5 to 8 feet under water; that in some places, the Mississippi has expanded the width of its surface between 5 to 8 miles, that the town of N. Madrid, and vicinage, had settled 8 feet below its former level; that ripples and tremendous whirlpools are formed in the Mississippi, so as to render its navigation almost impractical for craft of any kind - - and that in one place a cataract has been produced; that numbers of boats and lives have been lost; that a large barge from Limestone, was first cast out of the water by the morning shock of the 7th and then sunk, four persons only of the crew being saved; that a great many boats, some say exceeding 100, brought to at or near the mouth of Ohio, afraid to proceed; and that many others which had ventured down the Mississippi, were obliged to be abandoned by the crews, after making them fast to the trees among which they were driven; and lastly, that N. Madrid was entirely evacuated - - its inhabitants fleeing in the greatest consternation, leaving their property behind, to escape from the dangers of that devoted place.

It is our decided opinion that the source of the earthquake will be found either on the waters of the Missouri or those of the [Arkansas?] where volcanic mountains are known to exist and there, it is presumable, the effects have already been tremendous, and many Indian towns swallowed up. We anxiously wait for the return of the traders down those streams, and from them important particulars may be expected.

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


How to cite this article: : “The Earthquake,” Western Spy (Cincinnati, Ohio), 14 Mar. 1812, p. 2, available at