New Madrid, Missouri: New Madrid Earthquake Museum

The most violent earthquake in non-Alaskan American history struck New Madrid on February 7, 1812. Not many people lived there at the time, but it merits a lot of attention in the local museum. T-shirt of note: "New Madrid: It's Our Fault."

New Madrid Historical Museum

Address:
1 Main St., New Madrid, MO
Directions:
New Madrid Historical Museum. I-55 exits 44 or 49, then east into town. Watch for museum signs.
Hours:
M-Sa 9 am - 4 pm, Su noon - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
573-748-5944
Admission:
$2.50, and there's a donation box.
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Earthquake Museum. New Madrid Earthquake Museum

On that long drive on I-55 from Memphis to Chicago, we stumbled across the New Madrid Museum. It's billed as an Earthquake museum, due to the worst one in the continental U.S. happening here in 1812.

As far as museums go, it's small, but well done. You start off in a folding chair in the gift shop watching a VHS about the earthquake, then head off on your self guided tour. Housed in the town's former saloon, the displays are well set up, and it takes less than an hour to see the whole thing. There's a few interesting things like cannonballs, the first sewing machine, and a children's goat saddle.

Mostly the exhibits center around the Civil War, New Madrid history, and earthquakes. Not everything is behind glass, either, which makes it almost like a funky little antique store.

[Christine L. Tuohy, 05/15/2007]

The big one hit a one million square mile area, centered roughly here, on Feb. 7, 1812, estimated at 8.0 on the Richter scale (two earlier big quakes shook things up in December 1811). The area was sparsely populated at the time; the New Madrid Earthquake is barely remembered after the hue and cry over urban jolts such as San Francisco in 1906 or Anchorage in 1964 (which was actually the biggest North American quake ever). Earthquake buffs should make the pilgrimage to New Madrid, but that room looks suspiciously tidy for an Earthquake Museum...

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