Intermountain Seismic Belt Historical Earthquake Project
November 17, 1902 – Pine Valley, UT – M 6 ±
In the early afternoon of November 17, 1902 residents of Pine Valley, UT were startled by a magnitude 6 (+/-) earthquake. The shaking caused individuals to flee their homes, some being hit by swaying doors and jambs as they ran. Most of the chimneys in town were reportedly damaged. Clocks stopped. Some individuals reported seeing clouds of dust in nearby canyons as rocks weighing many tons came crashing down. Poultry and domestic animals were frightened. Some individuals reported that upon putting an ear to the ground, they could hear a low roar like a stove burning. Though residents were on edge day and night, no one was reported to have evacuated the area.
To the south, in St. George and Santa Clara, there were reports of considerable damage to many buildings. The shaking was strong enough in some buildings to flip hanging pictures completely over. Terrified children and adults ran from homes and other buildings, some experiencing the sensation of seasickness. Many residents were afraid to reenter their homes. Clouds of dust were seen in many directions from falling rocks as far as 25 miles away. It was reported that in some places, hot and cold springs were increased in their flows and waters became muddy.
The earthquake was reported felt in other cities and towns in the surrounding area including Bloomington, Pinto, Cedar City and Toquerville. Individuals in these areas reported damage such as toppled chimneys, falling ceiling plaster, cracked walls, items toppling from shelves, frightened people rushing from buildings and huge boulders rolling down causing clouds of dust. The communities of Lund, Notom, Parowan, Marysvale and Tropic reported feeling the earthquake but suffering no damage.
Felt reports from Salt Lake City mentioned stopped clocks and jarred nerves but no damage. One establishment reported a substance that appeared to be volcanic ash on its windowsills, causing some to question whether the earthquake had activated extinct volcanoes in the southern part of the state. Some individuals speculated that ash from such a volcano could have been carried northward by strong winds. Closer to the epicenter, a few individuals reported seeing smoke above the Pine Valley Mountains and some reported seeing a flash of fire lasting a few seconds, though others reported detecting no evidence of volcanic activity in the area.
On December 4, it was reported that not a day had passed since the initial shock without one or two earthquakes being felt in Pine Valley. A report from St. George on the same day noted that residents there were rejoicing in the belief that the earthquakes had finally ceased – at that point it had been four days since a shock had been felt.
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