50 Years, 50 Stories


Published July 28, 1980 in The Ledger Independent

“What,” I asked my daughter, “in the hell is GOING ON?”

“I don;t know,” answered Leslie with eyes wide, “but I think the house is going to fall down.” And with that we scurried posthaste to the basement.

It was like that all over Maysville. And Mason County. And generally across Kentucky, in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, eight other states and Canada when an earthquake rattled mid_america Sunday afternoon.

But mostly right here. “You (Maysville) appear to be right near the center of this thing,” said Jake Booher, bureau chief d

for the Associated Press Louisville, The center of the earth movement, Booher said, was 50 miles northeast of Lexington and 45 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

Damage was widespread, although no injuries were reported. The tremor originally measured at 5.8 on the Richter scale but downgraded to 5.1 last night, struck without warning at 2:53 p.m. It last for perhaps 15 seconds. Moments later, in every community, in every street and on every corner, people roused themselves from a sleepy afternoon to survey their homes and talk nervously with neighbors.

“It appears to be a lot worse than it looks,” said City Manager Dennis Redmond ;ate yesterday afternoon.

“Sure, the buildings still standing but there seems to be some structural damage,” he said.

At 5:30 yesterday, Redmond said the city had decided to keep people out of the First Christian Church on East Third Street. “A wall has shifted and roof columns moved and we have called engineers to make an assessment of the situation,” the city manager reported, In addition, he said a house owned by William Tillett at 11 East Fourth Street “Might have to be condemned.”

It was the same everywhere.

Jim McDaniel of Peck’s Ridge in Fleming County said his house was moved off its foundation. Woody Purdon popped out of Vance’s Drug Store, grumbled about an air conditioner shaking apart, and asked: “What was that?”

Fifty thousand people in the Maysville trading area were wondering the same thing.

Up the street, a Maysville patrolmen stood guard in front of the Bank of Maysville where a large plate glass window had shattered into a zillion pieces. The same kind of loss occurred at Larry’s IGA on Forest Avenue, and in countless dozens of homes and buildings at every point of the compass.

“It felt like the whole damn jail was coming down,” said Jailer Lloyd Berry after tow chimneys crashed onto the roof. An employee at the Spurlock Station of East Kentucky Power said the 800 foot stack, with a built-in sway of eight feet, moved 12 to 15 feet when the quake hit. The four columns in front of Hayswood Hospital were cracked and there were reports of knocked out production at the DPandL plants.