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Treasures of the Archives: “Earthquake in Washington State on April 29, 1965”

Construction workers repairing the legislative building after it was damaged in an earthquake on April 29, 1965. Legislative building, earthquake damage, exterior, 1965, Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives.

Construction workers repairing the legislative building after it was damaged in an earthquake on April 29, 1965. Legislative building, earthquake damage, exterior, 1965, Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.

On April 29, 1965 at 8:29 a.m. the ground shook in the southern Puget Sound. A magnitude 6.7 earthquake sent tremors across the area frightening commuters, damaging buildings, and taking three lives. It cost twelve and a half million dollars to repair damages from the first substantial earthquake to affect the region in over twenty-five years.

The earthquake did not last long but its jarring force did damage to structures across the region. Records at the Washington State Archives record the aftermath. Meeting minutes show that state agencies like the Olympia Port Commission had their engineers inspect buildings to determine the extent of damage and the necessary repairs. Most of the damage was minor including broken chimneys and cracked masonry. The Pierce County Fire District #6 Board of Commissioners also reported damage to the fire station and other buildings within its district.

Even the Washington State Legislative Building was damaged in the earthquake. The picture above shows a work crew repairing the damaged dome and foundation. The building had been compromised in the previous earthquake of 1949 which made the building more susceptible to damage.

The historic record shows that in the past century Washingtonians have been impacted by shaking ground on multiple occasions. You can learn more about earthquakes in Washington State and how they have impacted local communities by doing a keyword search within the Minutes and Meeting Records Collection.

Resources:

http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Record/View/B6655EBE6DFA76310DE31C0D3291B54F

http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Record/View/4B034310BF782162D062EE57605669A0

http://www.johnmartin.com/earthquakes/eqpapers/00000015.htm

http://mil.wa.gov/blog/news/post/big-1965-earthquake-happened-50-years-ago