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1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake 60th Anniversary Events

Home » 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake 60th Anniversary Events

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Hebgen Lake Earthquake.

The Hebgen Lake Earthquake occurred in the dead of night on August 17, 1959. The earthquake measured 7.5 (later adjusted to 7.3) on the Richter scale and triggered a landslide that brought 80 million tons of rock hurdling down into the Madison River canyon at 100 miles per hour, killing 28 people who were camping nearby. The geologic event blocked the Madison River in less than a minute and formed what is now known as Earthquake (Quake) Lake.

This event continues to impact the West Yellowstone, Montana area and the surrounding region. Join us for events commemorating the anniversary throughout the month of August.

All events will be at the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center unless otherwise noted. The visitor center is located approximately 25 miles northwest of West Yellowstone. From West Yellowstone, head north on Highway 191 for 8 miles. Turn left onto Highway 287 at the junction. Continue on Highway 287 for 17 miles until you reach the visitor center on your right.

On August 3 and August 10 there will be guided walks to the Memorial Boulder at the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center. They will be at 10 AM and 1 PM both days. More information is available at 1959 Earthquake: Never Forgotten morning guided walks1959 Earthquake: Never Forgotten afternoon guided walks.

On August 8, historian Leslie Quinn will present “Shake, Rattle, & Roll: 60 Years Since the Hebgen Lake Earthquake”. It will followed by “The 1959 Quake & Geology” presented by Mike Stickney, director of Earthquake Studies.

Wednesday, August 14 with be the Earthquake Lake Instameet & Social Media Meetup. West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce staff will host an event commemorating the anniversary of the earthquake. It will include a guided walk and trip along the driving tour.

“The Hebgen Lake Earthquake & its Lasting Effects” will be on August 16 at 2 PM. This will explore how the earthquake affected and continues to affect the Yellowstone volcanic system and the surrounding geologic areas. The presenter will be Professor Jamie Farrell from the University of Utah.

August 17 is the actual date of the anniversary. It will be a day of memories and commemoration. A memorial service will start the day. It will be led by Pastor Benny McCracken at 10:30 AM. Rock Creek campground survivors will share their tales at the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center from 11:30 to 1:30. Book signings by Larry Morris, 1959 Yellowstone Earthquake, and Anita Painter Thon, Shaken in the Night, will happen throughout the day.

August 18 will mark the anniversary of the rescue efforts that were mounted to help survivors. Smokejumpers were among the first people to render aid and there will be a program featuring a practice jump and a look back at the history of the Earthquake’s immediate aftermath. This event will be at Refuge Point at 11:00 AM.