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PetersCreek
2014-Mar-27, 05:37 PM
Every day that I go to work at the Anchorage ATCT & TRACON, I pass a plaque near the front door that memorializes William G. Taylor, an air traffic controller who died on duty during the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. Most days, its words hardly register on a conscious level but today marks the 50th anniversary of the 4-minute, magnitude 9.2 event.

I was three years old and lived nowhere near Alaska at the time, so I could only listen to people call in to a radio show this morning with stories of what they experienced and try to imagine what it must have been like for them. One gentleman told of looking west down 5th Avenue and seeing waves roll up the street. Not waves of water (although Cook Inlet lies in that direction) but waves of...well...street. Those waves are still visible in Earthquake Park and other areas. Another caller described the ground pitching as if it was the ocean and that his boss at the time thought it was the End of the World. Because the JFK assassination was so fresh in everyone's mind and tensions with the USSR were high, some folks initially thought a nuclear bomb had been dropped. Looking at some photos of the aftermath, that's understandable in a way. Thirty blocks of downtown Anchorage were practically destroyed. The entire port town of Valdez was rebuilt at another location, miles away. And this is what was left of the Anchorage ATCT:

19405
Source: US Geologic Survey Photographic Library (http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/show_picture.cgi?ID=ID.%20Alaska%20Earthquake%20no .%20240)

swampyankee
2014-Mar-27, 05:41 PM
I was ten years old when it happened. I remember feeling horrified. I also remember that the news media reported some 10 ft vertical shifts.

redshifter
2014-Mar-27, 05:52 PM
My grandfather was living and working in AK when that quake hit. He said he could see the ground undulating like ocean waves.

grapes
2014-Mar-27, 06:09 PM
Fifty years! At that time, I was growing up in the shadow of Yellowstone, and the earthquake there in 1959.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-27, 06:37 PM
Fifty years! At that time, I was growing up in the shadow of Yellowstone, and the earthquake there in 1959.
So was I. Going through the Hebgen area still gives me goosebumps. My aunt, uncle, and cousin were in a motel just downstream (Ennis? I forget.) and got evacuated in the middle of the night.

LoneTree1941
2014-Mar-29, 03:31 AM
I was 22 and a Marine at Camp Lejeune NC. I don't remember hearing any news at all on the 27th, and when I did I was on liberty, sitting in a bar next door to the USO club in Wilmington NC and it was Saturday - I wouldn't have been there on a Friday, and it was what; 10pm when it happened in our time zone? There was a TV in the bar and it began to be covered, as I recall, only then. I remember it as being a hugely covered afterwards which makes me wonder about the news coverage of that time.

Kennedy's death was known within an hour of the shooting, and it was announced before he was dead. Again, I was at Camp Lejeune, and we had just loaded up from a couple of week field exercise, and we were waiting to head back to mainside that day in November 63.

At the time the Alaskan quake had the same kind of traumatic impact - of course to a lesser degree, but still the news had just not gotten out the same as did the JFK assassination. I remember that in the bar that day the TV was turned up and the discussion completely turned to what had just happened. Back then Alaska's statehood was only 5 years old and was still thought of as the northern frontier.

Barracks life is not entirely isolated, we had radios in the squad-bays and a TV in the rec room.

Regardless, it left the same kind of landmark in memory as those big traumatic events tend to do.

Gillianren
2014-Mar-29, 04:47 AM
My dad was stationed there with the Air Force. He was home over Easter for his mother's third wedding. The wall collapsed on his bunk. Grandma always said she got one thing out of the marriage, anyway, though I'm not sure we have reason to assume Dad would have been in bed at the time.

Jens
2014-Mar-29, 05:32 AM
One gentleman told of looking west down 5th Avenue and seeing waves roll up the street. Not waves of water (although Cook Inlet lies in that direction) but waves of...well...street.


When the 3/11 earthquake hit Japan I was in Tokyo, and I went down to the street to get out of the swaying building I was working in. I saw waves on the street like that. It was pretty incredible to see.

publiusr
2014-Mar-29, 08:34 PM
Yikes...

grapes
2014-Mar-31, 12:34 PM
So now a few measly fours in Yellowstone are getting people excited...

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-31, 02:57 PM
One gentleman told of looking west down 5th Avenue and seeing waves roll up the street. Not waves of water (although Cook Inlet lies in that direction) but waves of...well...street.

Thanks to this thread, I had a dream last night in which I knew there was an earthquake going on because I could see waves rolling up the street!