Richmond to commemorate 50 years since massive quake
The ground shook with ferocity in Richmond on Aug. 30, 1962, causing $1 million in damage stretching from northern Utah to Idaho.
A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit near the Cache County town at 6:35 a.m., spreading seismic waves that could be felt over a 66,300-square-mile area and in six states, according to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations.
"The whole room was being twisted as if it was in the hands of a giant," one Richmond resident recalled.
Half a century later, Richmond residents are gathering photos, newspaper articles and stories about the earthquake from town residents who experienced it to commemorate the natural disaster's 50th anniversary. The collection will be displayed in the city theater, city hall and relic hall beginning Aug. 30.
Marvin Traveller was 33 when the earthquake shook Richmond, causing cracks in the walls of his home and knocking food off the shelves in his basement. Now 83, Traveller said he hopes the display shows the younger town residents what their elders went through during the quake.
"There're really not too many of us around who were here 50 years ago," Traveller said.
Richard Bagley, now 81, still lives in the same home as he did when the earthquake struck. He was 32 at the time and remembers the tremors vividly. The more visceral memory, however, is the quake's deep rumbling roar.
"The sound probably stuck more with me than the physical shaking," Bagley said. "It was a frightening experience."
Bagley, who plans to speak at the commemoration, said the earthquake benefitted the town in some ways, destroying some of the rundown buildings and allowing for renovations to the LDS tabernacle and community homes. He also said the natural disaster brought the best out in the residents, who banded together to help one another in time of emergency.
"The quake may have done the community a little bit of a favor," he said.
Terrie Wierenga, who is organizing the collection with Traveller and Bagley, said it is meant not only to commemorate the quake, but to remind town residents that another one could happen at any time.
"Part of it is just making people aware of the fact that in many ways, we lucked out," Wierenga said. "We're a farming community, so a lot of folks were already out of bed and not necessarily trapped inside buildings."
Bagley said his speech will compare the earthquake to other significant events in history such as the moon landing and the assassination of John F. Kennedy to give Richmond residents an idea of just how rare it was to live through one of the biggest natural disasters in Utah history.
"This is one of the few major events that you can say either I experienced [it] or I'm standing where it happened," Bagley said.
Share your memories
I Stories and photos for the 1962 Richmond earthquake commemoration collection can be sent through August to:
• Richmond Quake, P.O. Box 9, Richmond, UT 84333-0009
• Marvin Traveller at email@example.com
• Drop them off at the Richmond City Office, 6 W. Main St., Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Richmond will commemorate the quake's 50th anniversary Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. starting at the city office.