The largest earthquake in Illinois history rattled residents in the tri-state area 50 years ago today.

While the magnitude-5.4 quake on Nov. 9, 1968, was centered in Hamilton County in southern Illinois, the temblor shook a wide area, from Nebraska to North Carolina.

Area residents reported pictures swaying on walls and furniture shaking.

Here is how the Telegraph Herald reported on the earthquake in its Nov. 10, 1968, edition.



If grandmother’s rocking chair started rocking by itself Saturday morning, it wasn’t ghosts at work — it was an earth tremor at about 11:05 a.m.

The quake was centered in southern Illinois near the Indiana border, about 120 miles east of St. Louis.

No damage was reported in the city, and many people didn’t feel a thing, but it really shook others up.

Assistant Police Chief Bob O’Brien said he was reading in the chief’s office when the quake struck and “the whole building moved for a period of two or three seconds.” He said that he thought at first there must be something wrong with the 110-year-old building, but the shaking stopped and a flood of calls began coming into the police switchboard.

He said the feeling of the tremor was rather like being in a flimsy frame house in a windstorm.

Most downtown buildings shook, and some people left the buildings in fear.

The courthouse trembled slightly, though some workers on the first floor of the 75-year-old building said they did not feel anything. Those working on upper floors of the courthouse felt the movement, but the cupola atop the building stayed firmly in place.

Office workers in the American Trust, Fischer, Roshek and Stampfer buildings reported desks moving, Venetian blinds clanking, doors swinging and pictures and light fixtures moving.

John Martin, manager of the Telegraph Herald lithography department, felt the movement in his home and described it as if “you were lying in bed and someone was shaking the bed, except that you are standing up. It is a real odd feeling.”

The Telegraph Herald received reports from residents at 17th and Main streets, 15th Street, Central Avenue and the Churchill Heights area that light fixtures moved and pictures on the wall swayed.

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