|New interpretive materials at the Earthquake Area|
Most of the deaths that occurred as a result of the earthquake were due to the massive landslides which buried several campgrounds in the valley below. When the mountain collapsed the onrushing earth created hurricane force winds strong enough to move cars. The landslide dammed the Madison River and created a brand new lake called Quake Lake. Until the Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in 1980 and created a new lake, Quake Lake was the youngest naturally caused lake in the world.
Last September, we took some of our friends up to see the Earthquake Area. They had never been and we wanted to take them to see it. We had been to the Earthquake Area many times before, but only one time since our return to the area. Since the last time we visited to this time, the Forest Service had erected all new interpretive materials and made the whole experience so much more interesting. The interpretive materials from before were old and not very detailed. The new materials are a vast improvement. I was very impressed.
The scenic byway is best viewed by heading toward Bozeman from West Yellowstone and taking the turn-off to Hebgen Lake. Hebgen Lake is a manmade lake with an earth and concrete dam. The first stop was the introduction to the Earthquake Area, and the first of the new interpretive signs.
|The Whitings, Chimene and Haydn at the first new sign|
In places along the shore, the road dropped fell into the lake. People gave reports of automobiles falling into oblivion in front of them. The highway destruction is still visible in places. Homes washed into the lake and a few of them are still submerged most of the year. Only the roofs are still above water.
Unfortunately, on our trip last fall, the areas for highway destruction and the submerged cabins were closed to the public while they were finishing the construction of the new interpretive materials. We did stop at one of the scarp sites for the first time in my memory. It was really interesting. There is a tree right along the scarp and some of it's roots are still visible twenty feet below.
There was smoke from forest fires heavy in the air and so most of the pictures from this trip are hazy. We picnicked near the escarpment.
|Road to the highway destruction and cabin destruction sites|
|Escarpment. Rhys is at the base by the rootball and Garrett is at the top of the scarp by the tree|
|Another view of the escarpment, as you can see it is extensive|
|Fall colors at the escarpment|
|A ruined privy at the escarpment|
|Waterfall created by the earthquake|
|Nice view of the mountains|
|Another section of the escarpment|
|Another section of the escarpment|
Since the roads were blocked by the earthquake, the only way in for a time was by parachute. Supplies and medics and other rescue personnel were dropped near the gathering point and it became the main staging area for the rescuers and the survivors.
The dam held and the campers were spared the immediate onslaught of the waters, but the massive rockslide that dammed the Madison River created a new dam downstream and backed the waters into the canyon. The water did flood the canyon, but it came from the other direction. As the water rose through the canyon, the cabins in the resort were casualties and were lifted off their foundations and floated around in the canyon for several weeks until they came to rest as the waters receded. They still remain where they came to rest all those years ago and are referred to as the Ghost Resort.
One of the cabins in the ghost resort came to rest on the side of the canyon wall and when I was a boy, it was still in decent shape. You could enter into the cabin and walk around. The floor was slanted and it was fun to stand inside the house with a couple of people face to face and another person outside the door with a camera. If you framed the people in the door, it looked like one was leaning forward and the other was leaning back. Of course, being a theatrical family, the one leaning forward was always the villain and the one leaning back was always the heroine.
Today, sadly the leaning cabin has collapsed and all we have now are fond memories. On the short hike to the leaning cabin, though we saw bald eagle flying and lighting in the dead trees along the lakeshore, and we saw a very large cricket on the path. He even posed for a picture.
|Marker for Refuge Point|
|This is where the people were rescued|
|Interpretive materials about the ghost resort|
|Ghostly cabins where they came to rest|
|Another of the ghost resort cabins|
|Trail to the leaning cabin|
|Immature bald eagle soaring|
|Fall colors overlooking the lake|
|The leaning cabin in ruins|
|Part of the leaning cabin|
|All that's left inside the leaning cabin|
|The collapsed roof|
|Us at the leaning cabin|
|Our friends the Whitings at the leaning cabin|
|Friends and family on the trail|
|Say hello to my little friend|
Quake Lake was formed and the water began to back up immediately. Not only did it wipe out the resort upstream from it, there was also the danger it would erode the Hebgen dam and create a catastrophic flood. The Army Corps of Engineers were called and they carved a channel over the next several weeks and created a spillway to ease the pressure upstream. The evidence of their bulldozers is still evident fifty-four years later.
This was the last stop on our trip. There is a visitor's center at this point with movies and other interpretive materials. It was undergoing a complete remodel when we were there. We'll have to see it the next time. I understand that there is a nominal fee to enter the visitors center, but it's very inexpensive. Not a great price to pay for something as informative as this.
We took the walk up to the boulders and of course climbed the larger of the two. Then we went over to view the evidence of the Army Corps of Engineers. When the day was done, we drove home by way of Raynold's Pass around Henry's Lake Idaho.
|Dead lodgepole pines in quake lake|
|Where the mountain used to be|
|The smaller of the two boulders|
|The larger of the two boulders with my kids on top for scale|
|Another view of the smaller boulder|
|The memorial plaque|
|Side view of the larger boulder|
|Different point of view for the larger boulder|
|Different point of view for the smaller boulder|
|Schist with quartz veining. Gold miners dig this kind of stuff. Where quartz veins are, gold follows|
|The Madison River downstream of the slide.|
|Fifty-four year old bulldozer tracks from the Army Corps of Engineers|
|Where the two massive boulders came from|
|This tree is a survivor|
|Spillway dug by the Army Corps of Engineers|