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The day the earth shook in Bluffton


Eighty-three years ago this spring – the year was 1937 – Bluffton residents felt the tremors of Ohio’s most severe earthquake. The following story is from the March 11, 1937, Bluffton News. Below the story is a summary of the earthquake, centered in Anna, where its school building was condemned and torn down.

From March 11, 1937, Bluffton News

Bluffton is shaken by second quake tremor

Shock Tuesday

Is more severe

Disturbance, second within

Week, awakens residents

At 12:45 a.m.

Distinct rumbling noise, similar

To that of heavy truck in heard

For the second time within a week, an earthquake of moderate intensity shook Bluffton at 12:34 a.m. Tuesday. The quake was the most severe every experienced here, according to old residents.

Many Bluffton area residents were awakened by the quake, the principal tremor of which lasted a minute, followed by less severe movements. The lesser tremors were for the most part of a few seconds duration only.

No discernable damage was reported Tuesday, but the quake was the principal topic of conversation thru-out the day as residents described how they were awakened by the rocking of the earth, how beds shook, windows and dishes rattled and buildings trembled.

Rumbling accompanies quake

A deep rumbling accompanied the tremor, and those living on traffic arteries were inclined at first to believe the noise was caused by passing trucks.

Because of the quietness of the hour, the quake was noticed by many more persons than the one which shook Ohio last Tuesday. Also, this week’s tremor was more severe and of longer duration.

Felt in seven states, the shock has been ascribed by seismologists to disturbance of glacial formations in the Northwestern part of Ohio. This week’s series of tremors was noticed in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the province of Ontario in Canada.

Quake center south

Tumbling brick chimneys and shattered glass awakened residents of Anna, a Shelby county village south of Wapakoneta, where the latest quake probably centered, similar to that of last week, seismologists reported. The quake center lies between Anna and Bellefontaine.

Normally regarded as one of the world’s most quakeproof districts, northwestern Ohio in the last week has gained some unusual publicity with two main tremors of moderate intensity

The largest earthquake in Ohio occurred on March 9, 1937, in western Ohio in the Shelby and Auglaize Counties area. This earthquake followed a smaller one on March 2, and is estimated to have had a magnitude of 5.4.

Considerable damage occurred in Anna and surrounding communities, including damage to nearly every chimney in Anna, cracks and wall separation in the school, rotation of cemetery monuments, changes in water wells, and other minor to moderate damage.

The Anna school was condemned and torn down.


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