Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Rest of the Story . . .

I think I left off our vacation pictures as we were headed to Salmon, Idaho.  It was a lovely day, a little brisk, as it was only April.  But the skies were so blue and bright, and the air was so clean and clear!

We stayed in Salmon the second night, the drive there was just gorgeous, a little more snow than I had expected, but beautiful just the same!

At least a foot of snow!

On our way to West Yellowstone, outside of Salmon, we stopped at Big Hole National Battlefield.  Big Hole National Battlefield is a memorial to the Nez Perce Indians,  who fought and died here on August 9 and 10, 1877. You can read more about it here.  This is hallowed ground, making it a very special and sacred place to visit.

Then onto West Yellowstone!  This part of the world holds a special place in my heart, as I was almost raised in Island Park, just outside of West Yellowstone, about 20 miles or so.   My parents built a cabin there when I was a small child, so most of my summers and much of the winter was spent there.  Even after I was married, and up until about six years ago we enjoyed many wonderful times at the cabin. . . . oh my goodness, the memories!  Most of them now are bittersweet, but I still love to go to West Yellowstone and remember . . . 
 On our way to West Yellowstone, we stopped at Quake Lake, this area and lake is testimony to one of the most violent earthquakes to ever shake the west.  On Aug. 17 1959 at 11:37 p.m., the Red Canyon fault and the Hebgen fault, both in the Madison River area, moved simultaneously and triggered an earthquake that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale. That earthquake forced a massive landslide that screamed down mountains and hills at about 100 miles per hour. Tons of rocks and earth crashed into Madison Canyon. The results were catastrophic. The force of the slide caused a flood and high winds swept a giant wave downstream. Five people died in the flood alone. The landslide killed another 28 people. It also dropped the north shore of Hebgen Lake 19 feet. Cabins on the shore washed into the water as huge waves crested over Hebgen Dam. Three sections of Highway 287 fell into the lake, the dam cracked in at least four places and hundreds of campers were trapped. The landslide eventually stopped, essentially damming the Madison River and creating Earthquake, or “Quake Lake,” a 190-foot deep, six mile long lake.

My mother remembers this event well, and like to tell this story about that night:  

I (meaning me),  had climbed into bed with my parents that night, and my mother kept telling me to stop wiggling!  In my little four year old voice, I told her that I was not wiggling.  She realized that something was wrong, and then heard voices out in the street.  She and my father got up to find most of the neighborhood, standing in the street in their pajamas, trying to figure out was was happening.  She says it is the only time she saw her neighbors in their pajamas!   We lived about 100 miles from the center of the quake and mother said it really shook things up!

 It always feels just a bit eery here!  These are the tops of trees that were at the edge of the camp ground, where the lake is now.

Then look what we ran into just outside of Quake Lake!  They didn't seem to mind us, as the meandered on their way to . . . who knows where!

What a fun vacation - now on to reality!



  1. HI Barb - beautiful scenery. Looks like a nice trip. I also have Idaho dad was born in Sugar City and my hubby's father's family is from St. Anthony. Idaho is a beautiful state. Hope you have a great week!

  2. Wow Barb - what an interesting and beautiful post. I've never heard of Quake Lake and this earthquake. How scary it must have been for those people. And the poor ones that were lost in the landslides. Sad. I love Indian culture. I used to play like I was an Indian when I was young. (A blond Indian - right.) This sounds like a great vacation! Idaho is gorgeous. Hope to get up that way one day!

  3. How lovely to read your posts and view your photo's and get a snap shot in my mind of your part of the world.

    Lovely as always.


  4. Fascinating and tragic tale! I must ask John if he remembers it.

  5. I have lived in Idaho for 34 years. Other than Salmon, West Yellowstone, and Island Park, I've never heard of the Big Hole National Battlefield or Quake Lake. Neither one of these places are very far from my home. You'd think I was a hermit, or something. I love the Island Park area. Other than the past two years, our family has made it a yearly trip to that area to visit Mack's Inn for their dinner and live theater. Fun!

  6. Hi Barb! I loved reading about your trip and hearing about the earthquake and Quake Lake, neither of which I'd heard of before now. That is a beautiful area and I hope to get to Yellowstone one of these days! Hope your weekend has been a good one! Take care. Hugs, Cheryl

  7. your trip is causing me to want to explore the Northern part of this Country.... I would so enjoy visiting parts of the Country that look like this. Beautiful!!!!! I have recently been studying my family genealogy and it seems that I have quite a bit of Cherokee blood!!! so interesting to me!!
    This looks like it must have been a fantastic trip.....Have a blessed day today...

  8. Quake Lake looks so gorgeous! How strange it must be to see so much snow and ice in May! :-)


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