Iowa History Daily: July 3 - Sioux City Earthquake of 1858

Iowa History Daily: On July 3, 1858, Sioux City shook as an earthquake rumbled west to east following an initial shock. Sioux City shook during late 1800s earthquakes at least three times, although no casualties or significant damage accompanied the events.

Many people don’t associate earthquakes with Iowa, and the United States Geographical Survey suggests “Iowa has experienced only minor earthquake activity since the United States obtained control of the state under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.” Although rare and small-scale, Iowa does experience the occasional earthquake.

The first, on this day in 1858, led the Sioux City Eagle to report an initial shock “accompanied by a heavy rumbling.” The paper also reported “pictures and crockery” moved by the force of the quake, with no major damage or casualties from the event.

The second seismic event of note in the storied history of Sioux City occurred on October 9, 1872, when the Sioux City Journal reported a quake of “sufficient force to set the ground a trembling and cause buildings to vibrate.” Felt more acutely on the low ground areas around the city, and high school students “scattered in undignified haste, fearful that the structure was about to collapse.”

Finally, a third quake occurred on November 15, 1877. Felt throughout parts of the northern Great Plains and Midwest, the ‘force of 7’ rated quake gave off a “peculiar rumble like that of a railroad train.” Again the Sioux City Journal reported on the seismic activity: “The manifestation consisted of a shock and a recoil, both of which were the most vigorous even felt in these parts.” #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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