For many folks, when you think of earthquakes, you think of California.

According to the United States Geological Survey, there are right around 10 thousand earthquakes in southern California each year, with most of them being small enough that they're not noticed by people.  However, Montana has its share of earthquakes as well.

How many?

While we don't have the same amount as the Golden State, we do average about 10 earthquakes per day here in Montana.  Doing a little simple math, that comes out to be right around 3650 earthquakes a year.  Much like California, most of these go unnoticed to Montanans, however, we've had a couple over the years that certainly left an impact.

Of course, the one that comes to mind for most Montanans took place in the late evening of August 17th, 1959. The Hebgen Lake earthquake or the Yellowstone earthquake as many people refer to it literally left its permanent mark on the landscape of Montana.

The earthquake took place at 11:37 pm and had a magnitude of 7.2, which resulted in a massive landslide that would claim the lives of 28 people and do millions of dollars in damage (almost 100 million in today's dollars).  It was reported that the effects of the quake reached all the way to both Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Credit: Forest Service Northern Region
Credit: Forest Service Northern Region

The eeriest part of this horrific natural disaster? A beautiful lake was formed as a result.

When the landslide occurred, it blocked the path of the Madison River, which in turn caused what is now known as Earthquake Lake or "Quake Lake".  According to the USDA, the landslide was so massive that it moved over 80 million tons of rock at over 100 mph.

Today, tourists are welcome at The Earthquake Lake Visitor Center. The center, which first opened its doors back in 1967 is run by the Forest Service with seasonal hours of 10 am to 6 pm June through mid-September. The center is a wealth of information and knowledge for folks of all ages and is not only a great place to take in some beautiful scenery but an opportunity to learn and remember just exactly what the earth is capable of.

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