Quake Lake

331 US Highway 191 N, West Yellowstone, Montana 59758 USA

  • Independent
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“Formed in 1971 by a large earthquake!”

On August 17, 1959, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck southwestern Montana.  The earthquake caused an 80 ton landslide to travel 100 miles per hour down Sheep Mountain. It created 20 feet high fault scrapes, the displacement on land by movement along a fault. Nearby geysers in Yellowstone National Park erupted and the water in the hot springs became muddy.The water in Hebgen Lake became tumultuous and created a seiche, which is a wave effect caused by wind and water. The landslide and seiche caused Hebgen Dam to crack and erode and interrupted the flow of Madison River. This interruption caused the water to spread upstream and create what is now known as Quake Lake. Aftershocks persisted in the area for several months, some as strong as 6.5 on the Richter scale. Many homes and cabins were destroyed and 28 people lost their life to this great natural disaster. The damages to roads and buildings totaled $11 million. This earthquake was the largest to ever strike Montana in known history and is also one of the worst known in all America.Now, guests can visit Quake Lake for themselves to learn more about the earthquake. There are many exhibits with a wealth of information about earthquakes and the effects it had on this area. Some of the most fascinating pieces are a working seismograph and pictures from shortly after the earthquake. The exhibit also features recollections from survivors.Even today, the effects of this earthquake can easily be seen. Huge boulders that were carried by the landslide remain. One of these boulders has a plaque honoring the 28 people who died in this tragedy. To see even more, take a drive down Highway 287. This road travels by a ghost village that was submerged by flooding after the earthquake and a refugee point. You can also see the epicenter of the earthquake from this highway.

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Reviewed by
Dave Doster

  • 133 Reviews
  • 121 Helpful
March 14, 2014

If you're a geologist or love disaster movies, this one's for you. Marvel at how an earthquake changed the earth. Hear the stories about those who died. If you're visiting Yellowstone, this is a must see.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Dakota

  • Blogger
  • 131 Reviews
  • 30 Helpful
November 11, 2015

In 1959, an earthquake which measured 7.5 on the Richter scale caused an 80-million ton landslide, which formed a dam on the Madison River, and thus this lake. In a single day, an entirely new terrain was created. It's a gorgeous, eerie entrance to spectacular Montana.

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Quake Lake

331 US Highway 191 N
West Yellowstone, Montana
59758 USA

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  • Wheelchair Accessible
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