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Kansas Geological Survey, Environmental Geology Series 2, originally published in 1978

A Revised and Augmented List of Earthquake Intensities for Kansas, 1867-1977

by Susan M. DuBois and Frank W. Wilson

Research supported by Contracts AT-49-24-0286 and NRC-04-77-017 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

small image of the cover of the book; black cover with white border, red map of quake intensities with white title text.

Originally published in 1978 as Kansas Geological Survey Environmental Geology Series 2. This is, in general, the original text as published. The information has not been updated. An Acrobat PDF version (5 MB) is also available.


Executive Summary


Purpose and Methods of Research

List of Kansas Earthquakes

April 24, 1867

November 8, 1875

March 1879

May 19, 1881

December 2, 1897

January 13, 1903

October 27, 1904

January 7, 1906

January 11, 1907

May 26, 1919

July 26, 1919

March 9, 1926

January 7, 1927

March 18, 1927

November 8, 1928

September 23, 1929

October 21, 1929

October 23, 1929

November 26, 1929

December 7, 1929

August 9, 1931

January 28, 1932

February 20, 1933

September 10, 1942

April 2, 1948

January 6, 1956

April 13, 1961

December 25, 1961



Executive Summary

Twenty-five earthquakes whose epicenters were within the borders of Kansas have been reported during about the past 110 years.

Two large nuclear and coal-fired electrical generating complexes and several existing or proposed reservoirs are sited near or in areas of past seismic activity in Kansas. The seismic design parameters for these facilities are based largely upon the locations, sizes, and frequency of earthquakes which have occurred in the region as far back as reports are available. Because of the critical nature of this information in estimation of seismic risk, it is important that the date, location, and size of each earthquake be determined as accurately as possible.

The original purpose of this study was to verify the basis for placement of the 1867 and 1906 earthquake epicenters near Manhattan, Kansas. It was subsequently expanded to review the reports of all earthquakes whose epicenters were within the boundaries of Kansas. The investigation included a review of the references cited for Kansas earthquakes by authors of previously pUblished state, regional, and national earthquake listings. In addition, old newspaper files, microfilms, and other records at the University of Kansas and the Kansas State Historical Society were searched for reports which may have been previously overlooked or not recorded.

As a result of this study three changes in epicenter locations were made, including those of the two largest earthquakes:

Date MM Intensity Location
From To
April 24, 1867 VII-VIII 22 mi. NW Manhattan Wamego vicinity
Nov. 8, 1875 V Valley Falls Topeka vicinity
Jan. 7, 1906 VII 10 mi. N Manhattan Manhattan vicinity

Changes in Modified Mercalli intensities for five earthquakes were made:

Date MM Intensity Location
From To
Mar. 18, 1927 V VI White Cloud
Nov. 26, 1929 IV V Ashland
Aug. 9, 1931 IV-V VI Turner
Jan. 28, 1932 III, V VI Ellis
Nov. 10, 1942 III, IV V Hays

This report includes a complete list of all felt reports compiled during this study.


The proposed construction of several large nuclear or coal-fired electrical generating complexes, dams, and other critical facilities in or near areas associated with past seismic activity in Kansas has raised questions concerning future earthquake probability and risk.

The location, size, and frequency of past earthquakes are presently used in calculating the seismic design parameters for such facilities. An additional safety factor is usually applied because the design life of a major dam and reservoir, for example, is approximately twice the 110-year period of record for reported earthquakes in Kansas. Because of the critical nature of such listings, it is important that the catalog be as complete and correct as possible.

Merriam (45) published a brief catalog of historical earthquakes in Kansas which has been the standard reference to the present time. Merriam's earthquake reports were cited by Docekal (17) in a regional catalog and by Coffman and von Hake (8) in a recent update of a national catalog of seismic events.

Algermissen (2) utilized published data on historical earthquakes to compile a Seismic Risk Map for the conterminous United States (Figure 1). This map has been included in the U.S. Uniform Building Code for determining criteria for earthquake-resistant design of critical structures. A seismic risk "2" zone which lies across the central and eastern parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska was delineated by Algermissen from the overlapping felt areas of several Modified Mercalli VII-VIII earthquakes which have occurred in the past near El Reno, Oklahoma; Manhattan, Kansas; and southeastern Nebraska. These earthquakes were believed to be related to movement on faults associated with a buried rib of Precambrian granite rocks which comes to within about 600 feet (183 meters) of the surface in Nemaha County, Kansas, and is for that reason called the "Nemaha granite ridge." The Nemaha ridge is known to be bounded along its eastern edge by a system of faults which is named the Humboldt Fault Zone because it was first reported near Humboldt, Nebraska (11).

Figure 1--Seismic risk map of the United States

Map of the US with most of Kansas in category 1 (minor damage) except for Nemaha ridge area (moderate damage).

The State Geological Surveys of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska are presently making a five-year detailed study of the sources of seismicity in the Nemaha Uplift area for the Site Safety Research Branch, Division of Reactor Safety Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This report comprises a part of that research.

Purpose and Methods of Research

The two largest earthquakes reported to date in Kansas are the 1867 and 1906 MM VII-VIII earthquakes. Merriam (45, p. 87) placed the epicenter of the 1867 event "... about 22 miles northwest of Manhattan in northeastern Riley County." He located the 1906 epicenter "... about 10 miles north of Manhattan in western Pottawatomie County." The precise locations of these two events are important in determining which of several known or inferred buried faults may have been responsible for the earthquakes. The original intent of the library research conducted by DuBois was to review the primary sources of Merriam's references for all earthquakes but especially to determine the basis for his locations of the 1867 and 1906 epicenters. This was later expanded to include, where available, other sources cited by Docekal (17) and Coffman and von Hake (8). At the same time it was decided to search for additional local felt reports of all earthquakes within the boundaries of Kansas.

The study included a detailed search of old newspaper files and other reports at Spencer Research Library and Watson Library at the University of Kansas in Lawrence; and of the extensive old newspaper files and microfilms at the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. This involved compiling a list of newspapers which were in operation within a certain radius of each particular event during the period that the earthquake effects were likely to have been reported (usually from the actual date to about two weeks afterward in order to find any reports sent later to weekly papers by rural correspondents). Contemporary maps of the period were utilized to locate felt reports from rural localities or small towns which have since changed names or gone out of existence. The earthquake epicenters located through this research are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2--Earthquakes in Kansas. Location and dates of earthquakes in Kansas during the past 110 years. The number following the date is the earthquake intensity on the Modified Mercalli Scale.

a 1867 VIII f 1906 VII k 1927 V p 1929 V u 1933 V
b 1875 V g 1907 IV l 1927 VI q 1929 V v 1942 IV
c 1881 III h 1919 IV m 1928 IV r 1929 V w 1948 IV
d 1903 II i 1919 IV n 1929 V s 1931 VI x 1956 VI
e 1904 IV j 1926 ? o 1929 V t 1932 VI y 1961 V

Map of Kansas showing locations of the quakes listed in this report.

The Modified Mercalli Intensity scale of 1931 (Table 1) was used to assign maximum MM Intensity to each individual felt report. These were, in turn, plotted on a map and, where possible, contoured to produce an isoseismal map for the particular earthquake.

Table 1--Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale of 1931 (Abridged and rewritten) (From Richter, C. F., (1958), Elementary Seismology (W. H. Freeman & Co., Inc.), pp. 136 - 138).

Masonry A, B, C, D. To avoid ambiguity of language, the quality of masonry, brick or otherwise, is specified by the following lettering (which has no connection with the conventional Class A, B, C construction).
Masonry A. Good workmanship, mortar, and design; reinforced, especially laterally, and bound together by using steel, concrete, etc.; designed to resist lateral forces.
Masonry B. Good workmanship and mortar; reinforced, but not designed in detail to resist lateral forces.
Masonry C. Ordinary workmanship and mortar; no extreme weaknesses like failing to tie in at corners, but neither reinforced nor designed against horizontal forces.
Masonry D. Weak materals, such as adobe; poor mortar; low standards of workmanship; weak horizontally.
I. Not felt. Marginal and long-period effects of large earthquakes (for details see text).
II. Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors, or favorably placed.
III. Felt indoors. Hanging objects swing. Vibration like passing of light trucks. Duration estimated. May not be recognized as an earthquake.
IV. Hanging objects swing. Vibration like passing of heavy trucks; or sensation of a jolt like a heavy ball striking the walls. Standing motor cars rock. Windows, dishes, doors rattle. Glasses clink. Corckery clashes. In the upper range of IV wooden walls and frame creak.
V. Felt outdoors; direction estimated. Sleepers wakened. Liquids disturbed, some spilled. Small unstable objects displaced or upset. Doors swing, close, open. Shutters, pictures move. Pendulum clocks stop, start, change rate.
VI. Felt by all. Many frightened and run outdoors. Persons walk unsteadily. Windows, dishes, glassware broken. Knickknacks, books, etc., off shelves. Pictures off walls. Furniture moved or overturned. Weak plaster and masonry D cracked. Small bells ring (church, school). Trees, bushes shaken (visibly, or heard to rustle -- CFR).
VII. Difficult to stand. Noticed by drivers of motor cars. Hanging objects quiver. Furniture broken. Damage to masonry D, including cracks. Weak chimneys broken at roof line. Fall of plaster, loose bricks, tones, tiles, cornices (also unbraced parapets and architectural ornaments -- CFR). Some cracks in masonry C. Waves on ponds; water turbid with mud. Small slides and caving in along sand or gravel banks. Large bells ring. Concrete irrigation ditches damaged.
VIII. Steering of motor cars affected. Damage to masonry C; partial collapse. Some damage to masonry B; none to masonry A. Fall of stucco and some masonry walls. Twisting, fall of chimneys, factory stacks, monuments, towers, elevated tanks. Frame houses moved on foundations if not bolted down; loose panel walls thrown out. Decayed piling broken off. Branches broken from trees. Changes in flow or temperature of springs and wells. Cracks in wet ground and on steep slopes.
IX. General panic. Masonry D destroyed; masonry C heavily damaged, sometimes with complete collapse; masonry B seriously damaged (General damage to foundations -- CFR.) Frame structures, if not bolted, shifted off foundations. Frames racked. Serious damage to reservoirs. Underground pipes broken. Conspicuous cracks in ground. In alluviated areas sand and mud ejected, earthquake fountains, sand craters.
X. Most masonry and frame structures destroyed with their foundations. Some well-built wooden structures and bridges destroyed. Serious damage to dams, dikes, embankments. Large landslides. Water thrown on banks of canals, rivers, lakes, etc. Sand and mud shifted horizontally on beaches and flat land. Rails bent slightly.
XI. Rails bent greatly. Underground pipelines completely out of service.
XII. Damage nearly total. Large rock masses displaced. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown into the air.

For the 1867 Manhattan earthquake, the "ten years ago today" column of the Topeka Commonwealth for April 24, 1877 contained a report of earthquake fountains or liquifaction "on the John Cotton Farm three miles south of Wamego." This is a criterion for MM Intensity VIII. Ms. Ruth Say, the Wabaunsee County Register of Deeds, was kind enough to search for and find a 1902 map showing the location of the Cotton Farm which was purchased in 1865. Recent airphotos indicate that the probable location of the area of liquifaction was on the floodplain of the Kansas River closely adjacent to the subsurface trace of the Humboldt Fault. It was largely on the basis of this report and an account of horses falling down during the earthquake at Louisville, a few miles north of Wamego and also near the trace of the Humboldt Fault that the epicenter was relocated to the general Wamego-Louisville-Manhattan area with the possible epicenter in the area of liquifaction mentioned above. Merriam (personal communication, July 16, 1976) stated that his placement of the 1867 and 1906 epicenters was "... based on whatever references are given in the published paper." A complete review of all the original sources of Merriam's references for the 1867 and 1906 earthquakes failed to find any felt reports which would justify placement of the epicenter locations 22 miles northwest and 10 miles north of Manhattan respectively. Therefore, the 1906 earthquake epicenter was also relocated by us to the general Manhattan area.

On the assumption that the Commandant's or Officer-of-the-Day's reports of Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth might contain accounts of the effects of the 1867 or 1906 earthquakes, written inquiries were made to the Commanding Officers of those military facilities. Subsequent inquiries were made at their suggestion to the Old Army and Navy Records Branch of the National Archives in Washington, D.C., without result. DuBois later contacted the Federal Archives and Records Center in Kansas City, Missouri, also without finding the military records. Sources there, however, suggested that the monthly meteorological reports of weather stations might contain such records although their reports for Fort Riley and Leavenworth were not complete for the pertinent dates. Similar inquiries to the Civil Archives Division of GSA and the Smithsonian Institute Archives in Washington, D.C., also failed to reveal any new reports.

The Jesuit Order maintained a mission to the Pottawatomi Indians near St. Marys, Kansas, in 1867. Old journals or records containing accounts of the 1867 earthquake may be present at the Jesuit St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. Some records may also still be extant in files of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the U.S. Government Indian Agent to the Pottawatomi Tribe. We intend to investigate these possibilities.

The following earthquakes of historical record are listed in chronological order. Local reports for each event are arranged alphabetically and numbered accordingly. Reports not previously cited by others in standard catalogs are starred (*). Where sufficient felt reports were available, an isoseismal map is included. Arabic numbers on the map correspond to the numerical listing of the felt reports. Roman numerals along the isoseismal lines indicate their Modified Mercalli Intensity value.

[Note: Numbers in parentheses refer to the References at the end of this report.]

April 24, 1867, MM VII-VIII

(See Figure 3, for location of the reports listed below)

Lat: 39° 10' Long: 96° 18' Near: Wamego (see Fig. 2, a)
Time: 2:30 p.m. Felt Area: 300,000 sq. mi. (777,000 sq. km.) (8, 17, 45)

Where reports are available, the following information has been included:

  1. Time
  2. Duration & Number of Shocks
  3. Direction of Wave Movement
Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Atchison, KS
(Atchison Co.)
(b) 2 shocks
(c) S → N
VI Every building rocked to-and-fro
Lamps thrown from tables & mantles
Bottles from drug store thrown down
People fled from buildings to streets
Water in White Clay Creek moved rapidly after a standstill for several days
No damage reported to buildings (5)
Vibration passed westward or northward
Wave moved from south to north
First oscillation followed by heavier more perceptibly felt swell (12, 13)
2. Chillicothe, MO
(Livingston Co.)
(a) 3:30 p.m.
(b) one shock
VI Severe enough to cause plaster to fall from ceilings of several houses (49)
3. Des Moines, IA
(Polk Co.)
VI Rocked persons sitting in chairs
Shook buildings (49)
4. Dubuque, IA
(Dubuque, Co.)
(b) 3 shocks
VI Three shocks felt
Openings formed in brick walls
Furniture displaced
Persons in chairs undulated backwards & forwards
Windows rattled, pictures shook, chandelier swayed
Not felt severely by ground floor--much felt by occupants of 2nd and 3rd stories (49)
Panic - people fled to the streets
Plastering came down in courthouse & other buildings (8, 49, 50)
Gas burners vibrated like pendulums
Cases shook in newspaper room (50)
5. Emporia, KS
(Lyon Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
(b) more than one
V - VI Low rumbling sound followed by vibrations
Houses shook, windows rattled
Panic--people fled from buildings
Brick & stone houses more severely affected than frame houses
Small boxes fell off shelves (49)
6. Fort Scott, KS
(Bourbon Co.)
II - III Slight trembling in buildings, not alarming (49)
7. Holton, KS
(Jackson Co.)
(a) 2:00 p.m.
VI Goods & wares fell off shelves
Shook buildings
People fled to the streets (49)
8. Iola, KS
(Allen Co.)
(a) 2:45 p.m.
VI Shook houses
Rattled crockery (49)
9. Irving, KS
(Marshall Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
(b) lasted 30 sec.
VI Rumbling sound heard before shock
Houses shaken severely
Inmates rushed out of doors
Lasted 30 seconds (49)
10. Junction City, KS
(Geary Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
VI Very heavy shock
Rocked buildings to-and-fro, moving several inches (31, 49)
Destroyed well being dug in town (17, 31, 49)
Shock seems not to have extended over a quarter of a mile in width (31)
11. Kansas City, KS
(Wyandotte Co.)
VI Books unshelved
Tables moved
Pendant articles swung (bridles & harness)
Two clock doors suddenly opened
Crack in wall open & shut
Water in tumblers spilled
Plastering shaken off in one or two houses
General panic--people fled to streets
Every movable article of furniture & crockery rattled & shook about (49)
12. Lawrence, KS
(Douglas Co.)
(a) 2:57 p.m. or 2:45 p.m.
(b) 2 or 3 shocks
VI Three shocks felt over a period of 30 seconds (17)
Earth trembled & vibrated
Doors & windows violently shaken (8, 43)
Type thrown down in printer's office
Butcher's spring balance drawn down 1 1/2 lbs. (5, 33)
Bottles shaken off druggist's shelves (8, 17, 43)
Plaster broken off
Loud rumbling noise (6, 17, 43, 49)
Three-four loose stones knocked off Unitarian Church (17, 49)
Rattled crockery, glassware, shook bundles from shelves (8, 49)
Building with stone walls 30-inches thick shook very perceptibly
People fled to streets
One stove overturned in a house
Books fell off shelves (49)
13. Leavenworth, KS
(Leavenworth Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
(b) 3 shocks felt, 30 sec. duration
(c) W → E
VII Plaster cracked entire length of ceiling--large portion fell to floor
Man shaken off load of hay
Two contiguous buildings lifted up, separated two inches, settled back
Dishes, tumblers knocked off shelves
Visible agitation of water in river
Clocks stopped at 2:30 p.m.
Nearly everything toppled over in private homes
Plaster fell in brick law office, several other buildings
Six-foot saws leaning against wall moved out six inches
Rumbling like thunder (49)
Stove pipe forced apart, some joints overlapping four inches
Several chimneys overthrown
Tables danced, dishes thrown to floor
Piles of sheeting toppled down from counters in post office
Plaster badly cracked in Billiard Hall (40, 49)
Woman received electrical shock from spring water, smoke seen to come from bank (34)
Shocks moved from west to east (41)
14. Lecompton, KS
(Douglas Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
(b) one shock
(c) came from SE or NW (2 conflicting reports)
V - VI Panic--people fled to streets
Lane University building quivered
Windows & doors danced (49)
15. Lexington & Sedalia, MO
(Lafayette & Pettis cos.)
VI Felt with equal force at Kansas City, Lexington, Sedalia, St. Joseph (49)
16. Louisville, KS
(Pottawatomie Co.)
VII Horses fell down in streets
Chimneys toppled & fell (49)
17. Manhattan, KS
(Riley Co.)
(a) 2:32 p.m.
(c) S → N or
VII Two-foot wave observed to move south to north on Kansas River (8, 17, 34, 45, 49)
Clocks stopped
No wave observed on Blue River
Stacked photographs pitched over to SW Cattle alarmed
Oscillation of houses seemed to approach the "overtopping point" (49)
Inhabitants severely frightened
Some people felt electric shocks (34, 49)
Stone buildings with weak walls fractured but did not fall (8, 17, 34, 49)
Aftershock occurred between 3-4 a.m. Thurs. (one day later) (34)
18. Marysville, KS
(Marshall Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
(b) 1 - 3 minutes
VI Temporary alarm on part of a few
Felt by people on first and second floors
Fisherman on Spring Creek felt tree shake, saw all the others trembling
Stone high school much shaken--along with desks, stove-pipes, & other furniture (72)
Rumbling sound--like heavy trunks being dragged across planks
Windows, doors, shutters , stove-pipes, all loose or hanging articles rattled, waved, swung back & forth fearfully (8, 72)
Bottles & packages rattled, some shaken off shelves & broken (17, 72)
19. Montgomery Co., KS V Shook buildings
Knocked dishes off shelves
People in moving vehicles did not feel it (witness was Topeka Weather Bureau man in 1906) (54)
20. Mound City, KS
(Linn Co.)
(a) 3:00 p.m.
(b) 15 seconds
V Houses violently shaken
Doors opened
Water shaken from buckets
Loose articles tumbled around (49)
21. Olathe, KS
(Johnson Co.)
V Houses seen to totter, wave back & forth
Shingles on roofs broke loose, fell to ground
Glassware rattled
Deep rumbling sound (49)
22. Oskaloosa, KS
(Jefferson Co.)
(a) 2:34 p.m.
(b) 15 - 20 sec.
VI Houses vibrated
Movable items shaken & jostled
Public panic--people fled to streets
Rumbling noise
Cupola of new school house reeled like drunken man (49)
23. Ottawa, KS
(Franklin Co.)
V - VI Houses emptied of occupants
Buildings shaken (49)
24. Paola, KS
(Miami Co.)
(a) 3:20 p.m.
(b) 50 sec.
(c) W → SE motion
VII Plaster fell from ceiling of large schoolhouse
Buildings rocked
Large brick building which housed the Republican newspaper office much injured--one side knocked down & destroyed
West to southeast motion
Those in eastern part of town nearly thrown down if standing
Sound--rolling of large train over railroad (49)
25. St. Joseph, MO
(Buchanan Co.)
(a) 2:35 p.m.
(b) 20 sec.
(c) E → W &
W → E
VII Rumbling noise
Shaking of entire surface of terra firma
Drove everyone into streets
Four-story brick buildings shaken from cornice to foundation stone
Windows broken, plastering thrown down
Ladies fainted, men turned pale
Solid brick blocks swayed to & fro like reeds (49)
Buildings shook, walls cracked, rocked, jarred (17,49)
Brick walls of new school house, standing on elevated piece of ground where street had been cut down, cracked several feet from ground & bank on which it stood was also rent in a distinct seam (13)
26. St. Louis, MO
(St. Louis Co.)
(a) 3:00 p.m.
II - III Shock felt here about 3:00 p.m. (49)
27. Salina, KS
(Saline Co.)
(a) 2:30 p.m.
(b) 10 sec.
III (?) Shaking lasted 10 seconds, no damage reported (49)
28. Solomon, KS
(Saline Co.)
(a) 2:25 p.m.
VII Train on Pacific RR violently rocked by shock, locomotive was stopped and trainmen abandoned cab for fear the boiler was about to blow up (16, 31, 45, 49)
29. Topeka, KS
(Shawnee Co.)
(a) 2:45 p.m.
(b) 2 shocks
(c) SW → NE
VI Waves in ceiling of Lincoln College observed to run southwest to northeast (49)
People fled to streets
Stone church rocked (49,53,56)
Ceiling of Methodist Church bent up and down like waves on a pond
Floor heaved & sank lower than its normal level
Horses broke loose from hitching racks & ran toward open country (53, 56)
All but one glass window broken in schoolhouse "below this city" (10, 17)
30. Wamego, KS
(Pottawatomie Co.)
(a) about 2:45 p.m.
VI - VII Shaking & rocking of every house
General alarm--people fled from buildings
Plaster broken in houses
Glasses shaken from lamps (49)
VIII (?) Special Report from 3 mi. S. in Wabaunsee Co.--"on the farm of John Cotton, ... during the earthquake the earth opened and water was thrown out of the opening in considerable quantities. At another place not far distant from the above, the earth opened and fire & smoke issued out. So one of our papers states". (10)
Walls cracked (17)
31. Wapello, IA
(Louisa Co.)
IV Motion of tremor described as "not violent, but easy swinging, giving one a sensation something like the first effects of a dram of wiskey". (50)
32. Warrensburg, MO
(Johnson Co.)
(a) 2:50 p.m.
(b) 10 sec.
(c) SW → NE
VI Walls of church heaved "as if moved by a shock from SW"
Glassware shook about
Plastering fell from ceiling
Buildings moved
No damage (?) (49)
33. Wathena, KS
(Doniphan Co.)
(a) 3:05 p.m.
(b) 10 Sec.
III (?) Small earthquake visited this section at 3:05 p.m.--lasted 10 sec. (49)
34. White Cloud, KS
(Doniphan Co.)
(b) 2 shocks
V (?) Two distinct severe shocks felt (49)
35. Wyandotte, KS
(Wyandotte, Co.)
(a) 2:00 p.m. or 2:45 p.m.
(c) N → S motion
VI Doors jarred open
Windows rattled & jarred
People fled to streets
Houses swayed
Dishes shook
People awakened from naps (49)

Questionable Report:

Carthage, Ohio Three mi. S. of Carthage on Miami Canal, an acre of ground sank 10', leaving a perpendicular wall of 10' on all sides (8, 17, 45, 49)


An estimated felt area of 95,000 sq. mi. is also found in Docekal (17). Equally strong felt reports exist from Leavenworth, Paola, Wamego, Louisville, Manhattan, and Solomon, KS. All of these towns, excluding Leavenworth and possibly Paola, were situated in alluvial valleys which may have served to amplify the effects of the shock. Documentation is limited because of the sparse population in 1867. The isoseismal map (Fig. 3) has been constructed with open contours to the west due to lack of reports in that direction.

Figure 3--Isoseismal map of the April 24, 1867 earthquake in Kansas.

Isoseismal map of the April 24, 1867 earthquake in Kansas.

November 8, 1875, MM V

(See Figure 4 for location of the reports listed below)

Lat: 39° 2' Long: 95° 42' Near: Topeka (see Fig. 2, b)
Time: 5:00 a.m. Felt Area: 8,000 sq.mi. (20,720 (8, 17, 45)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Buck Creek, KS
(Douglas Co.)
VI Distinct shock
Shook house, rattled dishes (9,36)
2. Burlingame, KS
(Osage Co.)
VI Rumbling noise
Shook houses, windows (9, 36)
Some people awakened
Motion lasting one minute; came from the west (17)
Slight shock (8, 9, 36)
3. Holton, KS
(Jackson Co.)
IV Rumbling noise, lasted several seconds
Windows, stoves, dishes rattled
Vibrations of the earth distinctly felt (28)
4. Kansas City, MO
(Jackson Co.)
IV "Western section of Missouri in the vicinity of Kansas City was startled by an earthquake at 4: 00 a.m." (27)
5. Lawrence, KS
(Douglas Co.)
V-VI Two distinct shocks felt, lasting one minute each (9, 45, 53)
Man living adjacent to city waked up to find dishes rattling
At the Hill home: dishes rattled, glass jar broken, family escaped out of doors rapidly (9, 36)
6. Louisville, KS
(Pottawatomie Co.)
IV-V Stoves, crockery, window panes rattled
Door jarred open (9, 35, 36)
7. Manhattan, KS
(Riley Co.)
V Wooden houses rocked, stone ones quivered (9, 36, 46)
Several people awakened (46)
8. Topeka, KS
(Shawnee Co.)
V Plainly felt in Topeka, light shock
Shockwave came from the northwest (conflicts with report in which the motion was SE to NW) (9,36)
Observed on the Wakarusa, south of town (9, 36, 53)
Felt in the Capitol, the most solidly built structure in town (9, 45)
Nearly everyone awakened
Shook windows, crockery in the store houses Floors seemed to heave (9)
9. Valley Falls, KS
(Jefferson Co.)
V People awakened
Buildings rocked and quivered (8, 17)
Dishes and windows rattled (17)
"Shock felt here though not as severely as in Topeka" (66)


The shock was not felt in Arkansas (17). The epicenter was relocated from Valley Falls (8, 17, 45) to the Topeka vicinity on the basis of the reports shown above. The date of this earthquake is unclear. All accounts state that it occurred between 4 and 5 a.m., but dates of the 5th, 7th, and 8th of November were cited. Multiple events on three days in the same region would have been reported by the press. It is probable that a typographic error exists in the Valley Falls Weekly, New Era (66), which reports that Topeka felt the shock on the 5th. The daily Topeka Commonwealth (9) reported the effects on November 9, presumably the day after the event. Thus, November 8 was the most likely date of occurrence.

Figure 4--Isoseismal map of the November 8, 1875 earthquake in Kansas.

Isoseismal map of the November 8, 1875 earthquake in Kansas.

March 1879, MM IV-V

Lat: 39° 34' Long: 99° 04' Near: Kirwin
Time: -- Felt Area: --

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Kirwin, KS
(Phillips Co.)
IV-V ? "Quite a severe shock was felt at Kirwin, KS" (17)


There was no reference to this shock in any of the March issues of the Phillips County Herald for that year. The latitude and longitude taken from Docekal (17) place the event in Osborne County, KS which is southeast of the town named in the felt report. Because of the conflicting locations and lack of details or references, this event has not been included on the epicenter map (Fig. 2) and has questionable authenticity.

May 19, 1881, MM II-III

Lat: 38° 57' Long: 95° 13' Near: Lawrence (see Fig. 2, c)
Time: 9:00 a.m. Felt Area: --

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Lawrence, KS
(Douglas Co.)
II-III Slight shock felt by several people
Sleeping persons (including editor of Lawrence paper) not awakened (37)


No felt reports have been found from other towns. This event is listed by Docekal (17), but not by Merriam (45) nor Coffman and von Hake (8).

December 2, 1897, MM IV

Lat: -- Long: -- Near: Kansas City (?)
Time: 1:10 a.m. Felt Area: 45,000 sq.mi. (116,550 (17)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Kansas City, MO
(Jackson Co.)
IV Dishes and doors rattled
Beds moved (17,27)
Effects of the tremor were mostly noticeable in the Westport District (27)
2. Medicine Lodge, KS
(Barber Co.)
III Slight shock lasting 5 seconds (17)


Jefferson, Oklahoma reported a severe shock which rocked buildings, making them creak and crack (17). It is unclear whether the source of the widespread effects lay in Kansas or Oklahoma. Therefore, the event is not shown on the epicenter map (Fig. 2).

January 13, 1903, MM I (7)

Lat: 38° 47' Long: 95° 21' Near: Baldwin, KS (see Fig. 2, d)
Time: -- Felt Area: --


According to Docekal (17) a shock was reported from Baldwin in Douglas County. No details are available. No reports of the disturbance are mentioned in the Emporia Gazette, Lecompton Sun, or Baldwin Ledger for that date. No reference to this event was made by Merriam (45) or by Coffman and von Hake (8).

October 27, 1904, MM IV-V

Lat: 37.5° Long: 100.2° Near: Dodge City (see Fig. 2, e)
Time: 10:30 p.m. Felt Area: 2,700 sq.mi. (6,993 (17)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Dodge City, KS
(Ford Co.)
IV-V Three distinct shocks (8, 17, 18, 45)
Rumbling sound (18)
People awakened
Windows and dishes rattled (8, 17, 45)
2. Meade, KS
(Meade Co.)
IV-V Two shocks at 10:06 and 10:09 p.m.
Dull rumbling roar accompanied each shock in Artesian Valley where the effects were more noticeable (49)
Windows and dishes rattled in lively manner (8, 17, 44, 45)
People were awakened (8, 17, 45)


The epicenter location varies among the standard catalogs (8, 17, 45) between Dodge City and Meade. The former location has been chosen arbitrarily in accordance with Docekal.

January 7, 1906, MM VII

(See Figure 5, p. 31, for location of the reports listed below)

Lat: 39.2° Long: 96.5° Near: Manhattan (see Fig. 2, f)
Time: 6:20 p.m. Felt Area: 36,000 sq.mi. (93,240 (17)

Where reports are available, the following information has been included:

  1. Time
  2. Duration & Number of Shocks
  3. Direction of Wave Movement
Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Abilene, KS
(Dickinson Co.)
a) 7:00 p.m.
V Slight shock at 7:00 p.m.
Rattled dishes
Movement plainly perceptible (67)
Water in glasses showed motion (45, 67)
2. Alma, KS
(Wabaunsee Co.)
a) 6:20 p.m.
b) lasted 10 sec.
c) started from NW
VI Walls rocked, floors weaved
Windows rattled, chinaware jumped
People felt weak in the knees
Followed by second shock at 10:30 p.m. which was slight, and caused no alarm (3)
Low rumbling sound preceded shock (54)
3. Auburn, KS
(Shawnee Co.)
IV Stove lids rattled
Houses shook
Same reports from Dover, in Shawnee Co. (54)
4. Blue Rapids, KS
(Marshall Co.)
IV Many people felt trembling or rocking
Leaves swayed on house plants
Not severe
In Great Western Mines, 500-600 tons of roof rock fell (7)
5. Cleburne, KS
(Riley Co.)
V-VI Some dishes broken
Some people very much disturbed, thinking an explosion had occurred
More severe than at Irving (29)
6. Emporia, KS
(Lyon Co.)
a) 6:15 p.m.
b) 3 shocks lasting 60 sec.
c) traveled northward
V-VI Many people frightened, several ran outdoors
Dishes rattled, houses shook
More severe four mi. north of town, lighter to the east, hardly felt south of Emporia (22)
Three distinct shocks all over Lyon County
No damage reported (22,67)
7. Hope, KS
(Dickinson Co.)
V Buildings trembled
Doors slammed shut in houses (19)
8. Irving, KS
(Marshall Co.)
a) 6:30 p.m.
b) 2 shocks
IV-V Rattled dishes on supper table
Beds shaken violently
Some people quite alarmed
Similar reports from Bigelow (29)
9. Junction City, KS
(Geary Co.)
a) 6:17 p.m.
VI Panic--people fled to streets
Articles shaken from shelves and tables
Windows rattled
Plaster knocked from walls (8, 17)
10. Kansas City, MO
(Jackson Co.)
a) 6:17 p.m.
b) 23-60 seconds
c) Motion from south and north (27)
IV Shook chandeliers
Rattled dishes (27, 54)
Not severe enough to cause alarm (42)
11. Lawrence, KS
(Douglas Co.)
IV (?) "No doubt about shaking here, although severer to the west"
Did not cause alarm (38)
12. Lincoln, NE
(Lancaster Co.)
a) 6:30 p.m.
IV (?) Shook globes and chandelier fastenings Distinctly felt although no damage was reported (67)
13. Manhattan, KS
(Riley Co.)
a) 6:15 p.m.
b) 2 distinct waves
c) SE → NE motion
VII Walls cracked (8, 17)
People rushed from homes in frenzied fear (36, 38, 45)
Brick chimneys dislodged from school, depot, houses (8, 17, 27, 36, 38, 45)
Dishes thrown together on tables
Houses rocked and swayed (38)
Shelf contents shaken to floor (36, 38)
Direction of wave motion was SW to NE
Persons in the dining room of the Gilett Hotel rushed out into streets
Lateral motion followed by vertical movement
Aftershock 20 minutes later (36)
Vase, lamp or bottle broken in every house (17, 27)
Tremor preceded by rumbling sound (8, 17, 36)
Aftershock January 23 at 8:00 a.m. (27, 36, 45)
14. St. Joseph, MO
(Buchanan Co.)
b) 10 sec.
c) came from south
V-VI Rattled dishes and tinware (27, 38, 42, 67)
Detached pictures from wall (38, 42)
Frightened small children (27, 38, 67)
Shock came from south and lasted ten seconds (54, 67) No serious damage (42)
Tables did freakish stunts, floors swayed, dishes danced
Plates on racks attached to wall fell to floor (19)
15. Seneca, KS
(Nemaha Co.)
IV Jarred windows *Rattled dishes (19)
16. Skiddy, KS
(Morris Co.)
? Most of the wells at Skiddy have gone dry--used to be half full before the earthquake (22)
17. Topeka, KS
(Shawnee Co.)
a) 6:15 p.m.
b) 2 shocks, 3 shocks at Union Pacific Hotel (45)
V-VI Roaring sound followed by the shock (8, 17, 36, 45, 54) Shook houses, windows, doors, dishes (36, 45, 54)
Glass lamps shaken
Man awakened
China thrown from pantry shelves
Baby fell from lounge (54)
Slight shock resulting in curious inquiries at telephone office (38,67)
People filled the streets (53)
18. Valley Falls, KS
(Jefferson Co.)
II-III Slight but distinct shocks every day or so from January 7-January 23 (27)
19. Wamego, KS
(Wabaunsee Co.)
VI Plaster shaken from ceilings (8, 17, 19, 38, 42)
Things tumbled about generally (38, 42)
Pictures shaken from walls
Bottles shaken from shelves
"The amount of damage will be considerable" (19)
20. Wathena, KS
(Doniphan Co.)
a) 6:15 p.m.
c) N-S motion
IV-V Severe earthquake accompanied by rumbling sound noticed here
Traveled N-S
Houses shaken
Dishes rattled (68)
21. Westmoreland, KS
(Pottawatomie Co.)
VI Plastering jarred off courthouse in places (7)
22. White Cloud, KS
(Doniphan Co.)
II-III Felt, but "not very severe" (69)
23. Wichita, KS
(Sedgwick Co.)
b) 3 shocks lasting 3-4 seconds
II-III Slight shock felt
Three shocks lasting 3-4 seconds (19)
24. Woodbine, KS
(Dickinson Co.)
IV Dishes rattled in cupboards (19)


A felt area estimate of 10,000 sq. mi. is also listed by Merriam (45) and Docekal (17). Eight aftershocks were reported in Manhattan (three of these were also felt in Wamego) during the period from January 8th through 23rd (17). Felt reports were found from Leonardville (51), Hickory Grove (51), Walnut Creek (51), Marysville (1), Joplin, MO (42), Salina (67), Minneapolis (67), Clay Center (67), Nebraska City, NE (67), and Syracuse (67). Docekal (17) lists felt reports for Oskaloosa, Herrington, Emporia and Beloit, KS; Plattsmouth, Falls City and Brock NE; and Bethany, MO.

Figure 5--Isoseismal map of the January 7, 1906, earthquake in Kansas.

Isoseismal map of the January 7, 1906, earthquake in Kansas .

January 11, 1907, MM IV

Lat: 37° 04' Long: 97° 02' Near: Arkansas City (see Fig. 2, g)
Time: 1:45 a.m. Felt Area: --


An earthquake lasting two seconds awakened people and rattled dishes in Arkansas City (Cowley County), KS (17). The shock was not felt in adjacent towns (17). No new reports were found for this event. Merriam (45) and Coffman and von Hake (8) do not mention it at all.

May 26, 1919, MM IV

Lat: 37° 41' Long: 97° 20' Near: Wichita (see Fig. 2, h)
Time: 10:00 p.m. Felt Area: 9,500 sq.mi. (24,605 (?) (7) (17)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Wichita-Riverside District
(Sedgwick Co.)
IV Shock lasted 4-5 seconds (4, 17, 45, 70)
Dishes and windows rattled (4, 70)
Rumbling sound was heard (4, 17, 70)
Furniture moved (17)


Merriam (45) lists 9:06 p.m. as the time of the event.

July 26, 1919, MM IV-V

Lat: 37° 41' Long: 97° 20' Near: Wichita (see Fig. 2, i)
Time: 5:00 a.m. & 8:00 a.m. Felt Area: 4,000 sq.mi. (?) (10,360 (?) (17)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. N Riverside-Wichita
(Sedgwick Co.)
IV First shock lasted two seconds
Caused houses to tremble
The next shock was slightly longer and more violent (70)
A loud rumbling noise preceded the shocks (4, 17, 45)
*It was difficult to take steps without staggering (4)

March 9, 1926, MM --

Lat: 38° 51' Long: 101° 45' Near: Sharon Springs (see Fig. 2, j)
Time: 7:00 a.m. Felt Area: --


At 7:00 a.m., a rumbling sound was heard and a bluish cloud of dust was observed in Smoky Hill Basin, four miles southeast of Sharon Springs (Wallace County), KS. A hole was found to be 50 feet wide, descending conically into darkness. Union Pacific Engineers estimated that 6,000 tons of dirt and rock fell into the hole and disappeared. Pale green water arose from the bottom. Patches of bubbles appeared on the surface and whiffs of sulfur floated up at intervals.

Large cracks, five feet wide in places and several hundred feet long, encircled the hole which grew larger every day. By March 25, the dimensions were 450 feet from east to west; 300 feet from north to south; 150 feet from the east bank to the water line; and 170 feet water depth.

The Niobrara Formation lies 200 feet below the surface. A similar feature, Old Maid's Pool, exists six miles northwest of Sharon Springs. Not the slightest earthquake shock was recorded anywhere in the United States on March 9th. Thus, it is likely that this particular incident is related to collapse and solution in the underlying chalk beds rather than to seismic activity. Docekal (17) lists March 10 as the date of this event, it is believed to be an error.

For further reference, see the following issues of The Western Times, Sharon Springs, KS: March 11, 18, and 25; April 1, 8, 15, and 22, 1926.

January 7, 1927, MM IV-V

Lat: 38° 21' Long: 97° 41' Near: McPherson (see Fig. 2, k)
Time: 3:30 a.m. Felt Area: 4,000 sq.mi. (10,360 (?)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. McPherson, KS
(McPherson Co.)
IV-V Scores awakened Dishes rattled
Keystone in a bank fell out
Deep rumbling sounds heard during the vibration (17, 27, 45, 60)


No new reports were found

March 18, 1927, MM VI

Lat: 39° 55' Long: 95° 20' Near: White Cloud (see Fig. 2, l)
Time: 11:25 a.m. Felt Area: 300 sq.mi. (777 (17, 45)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. White Cloud, KS
(Doniphan Co.)
VI Houses rocked
People fled quickly to streets (8, 17, 45, 60)
All loose articles rattled (17)


No account of this earthquake is found in the Kansas City Times, Kansas City Star, or Lawrence Daily Journal for this date. Docekal (17) reports that Highland, KS and Oregon, MO felt the shock.

November 8, 1928, MM IV

Lat: 39.5° Long: 98.1° Near: Beloit (see Fig. 2, m)
Time: 8:15 a.m. Felt Area: --

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Beloit, KS
(Mitchell Co.)
IV Shock lasted 40 seconds
Floors seemed to stir and sway under the feet
Not severe enough to disturb objects
Steam pipes quivered (6)
Windows shook, dishes rattled (6, 17, 45)


No reports were found from other towns, thus indicating an extremely local felt area.

September 23, 1929, MM V

Lat: 39.0° Long: 96.6° Near: Manhattan (see Fig. 2, n)
Time: 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Felt Area: 15,000 sq.mi. (38,850 (17, 45)


Two slight shocks awakened residents of Manhattan and Junction City. Windows and dishes rattled although no damage occurred. The trembling was felt at Wakefield, Wheaton, Eskridge, and towns in the triangle between them (17, 25, 32, 45). No new details were found.

October 21, 1929, MM V

Lat: 39.2° Long: 96.5° Near: Junction City (see Fig. 2, n)
Time: 3:25 p.m. Felt Area: 8,000 sq.mi. (20,720 (17,45)


Two light shocks were felt in Manhattan, Junction City, and McFarland at 3:25 p.m. They were more intense than those of September 23rd (57). Abrupt bumping, rattling of windows and cooking utensils, and other sounds like thunder were reported (17, 25, 45, 57). Council Grove, Concordia, Chapman, Clay Center, Emmett, St. George, and Wamego also felt the tremor (25, 45, 55). Father Joliat's seismic records in Florissant, MO placed the epicenter near Junction City (32). The shock was also recorded on the seismograph at Lawrence according to Merriam (45).

October 23, 1929, MM II-III

Lat: 39.0° Long: 96.8° Near: Junction City (see Fig. 2, p)
Time: --- Felt Area: --


A sight shock was felt in Junction City (8, 17, 45): probably an aftershock of the October 21st event. No further details were found.

November 26, 1929, MM IV

Lat: 37° 11' Long: 99° 46' Near: Ashland (see Fig. 2, q)
Time: 10:20 a.m. Felt Area: --

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
Ashland, KS
(Clark Co.)
IV Three distinct ground swells were felt in rapid succession
Preceded by a peculiar whistling sound (63)


Docekal (17) and Merriam (45) refer to this event as a local shock. A 1969 photograph of an earth rupture possibly associated with this earthquake appears in a 4-H manual, "Exploring the World Through Geology," authored by Harold E. Jones. Frank Wilson submitted an open file memo concerning this rupture to the Kansas Geological Survey in 1973. The location of the fracture is approximately six miles east of Ashland in a pasture. The fracture is 200 yards long, trending N 30° E with an estimated age of less than 55 years. It may be associated with subsidence rather than the actual earthquake. The site was visited in May 1976 by Don Steeples, Pieter Berendsen, and Tom McClain of the K.G.S. staff. A linear depression several hundred feet long was still visible. It was their unanimous opinion that the fracture was associated with solution phenomena. There was no visible offset to indicate that the fracture was earthquake related.

December 7, 1929, MM V

Lat: 39° 11' Long: 96° 34' Near: Manhattan (see Fig. 2, r)
Time: 2:02 a.m. Felt Area: 1,000 sq.mi. (2,590 (17, 45)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Council Grove, KS
(Morris Co.)
V Beds shook (25)
2. Manhattan, KS
(Riley Co.)
V Buildings shook
Windows rattled
Many people awoke (17, 45, 57)
No damage reported (45, 57)


Felt reports were received from Wamego, McFarland, and Junction City (25,45).

August 9, 1931, MM VI

Lat: 39.1° Long: 94.7° Near: Turner (see Fig. 2, s)
Time: 12:18, 1:07, and 1:15 a.m. Felt Area: 300 sq.mi. (777 (17)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Kansas City, MO
(Jackson Co.)
V Houses shook violently
Dishes and small articles broken
Several people awakened
Pictures and bric-a-brac fell (33)
Dishes rattled, pictures swung (45)
2. Leeds, MO
(Jackson Co.)
V-VI Telephone operators were almost shaken from their chairs (33)
3. Merriam, KS
(Johnson Co.)
VI Shock lasted 30 seconds
Pictures were thrown from walls
Dishes broken
People fled to the streets
It felt as though beds were lifted and then dropped (33)
4. Turner, KS
(Wyandotte Co.)
VI A family of four was thrown from beds
Furniture was overturned (33)


Father Joliat placed the epicenter near Turner, KS. The Lawrence Seismograph did not record the shocks (27, 33) although a slight disturbance was indicated on the records according to R. C. Moore (39). St. Louis and Denver instruments did not record disturbances at all. No explosion is known to have occurred (39). The shock was not felt in Topeka, but seemed to be confined to a 10-mile area (58). Felt reports exist for Bonner Springs and Overland Park, KS (45). On the basis of the strong felt reports from Turner, Merriam, and Leeds a revised MM value of VI has been assigned to this event.

January 28, 1932, MM VI (?)

Lat: 39.0° Long: 99.6° Near: Ellis (see Fig. 2, t)
Time: 6:15 p.m. Felt Area: 2,000 sq.mi. (?) (5,180 (17)


Ellis and Trego counties were shaken by a slight earthquake at 6:15 p.m. Windows were shattered in a farmhouse 15 miles north of Ellis (17, 45, 59). The interpretation of the significance of this latter report accounts for the various MM ratings given for this event. Taken literally, the report justified a MM intensity VI. Docekal (17) chose MM V and Merriam lists a conservative MM III (?). Recently, it has been learned that residents of Bogue in Graham County also felt this earthquake (personal communication from Don Steeples, K.G.S. geophysicist).

February 20, 1933, MM V-VI

Lat: 39° 50' Long: 99° 54' Near: Norton (see Fig. 2, u)
Time: 11:00 a.m. Felt Area: 5,700-6,000 sq.mi. (14,763-15,540 (17)


A shock was felt in Norcatur, Norton, Oronoque, KS and Beaver City, Hendley, Oxford, and Stamford, NE (17, 45, 48). In Norton, windows and dishes rattled, phone bells jingled, houses swayed, and some people ran outdoors (17, 45). Many people in Kansas felt sick as a result of the shock (17). Some believe it may have been caused by an exploding meteor (48). The occurrence of instrumentally recorded epicenters in this vicinity in 1961, 1977, and 1978 lends credence to its being a tectonic earthquake.

September 10, 1942, MM V

Lat: 38° 51' Long: 99° 20' Near: Hays City (see Fig. 2, v)
Time: 4:00 a.m. Felt Area: --

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Hays City, KS
(Ellis Co.)
V Windows and dishes shook
A mop bucket jumped (21, 24)
Scores of people awoke (17, 21, 24, 45)


The shock was felt in Stockton and Plainville also (17, 45). The fact that many sleepers were awakened suggests a MM intensity of V rather than III (?) (45) or IV (17).

April 2, 1948, MM IV

Lat: 37° 42' Long: 97° 20' Near: Beechwood (see Fig. 2, w)
Time: 9:00-10:00 p.m. Felt Area: --


Six tremors caused ripples in goldfish bowls in Beechwood, KS about five miles east of Wichita. Houses reportedly trembled (17, 45). No new details were found.

January 6, 1956, MM V-VI

Lat: 37° 15' Long: 98° 45' Near: Barber County (see Fig. 2, x)
Time: 5:50 a.m. Felt Area: 16,000 sq.mi. (41,440 (14)


According to Dellwig (14) the felt area was about 16,000 sq. mi. and the depth to focus was 20 miles (32 km.) (?). Throughout the central zone, a rumbling sound preceded or accompanied the vibration. The maximum intensity attained was at Coats, KS and Alva, OK where objects were overturned and knocked from shelves. Small pieces of plaster fell from walls already in poor condition. Other towns reported movement of beds, shaking of floors, rattling windows and dishes, and awakening of residents. A complete report of the earthquake including an isoseismal map has been published by Dellwig (14).

April 13, 1961, MM V

Lat: 39.9° Long: 100.0° Near: Norton (see Fig. 2, y)
Time: 3:16 p.m. Felt Area: 1,400 sq.mi. (3,626 (17)

Locality Assigned
Earthquake Effects
1. Alma, NE
(Harlan Co.)
V Water bounced in a tank
Stove rattled (17)
2. Beaver City, NE
(Furnas Co.)
V Canned goods fell off shelves (17)
3. Norton, KS
(Norton Co.)
V Buildings shook
Water bounced in stock tanks
Noise like an explosion was heard
Dishes rattled
Furniture was set in motion (61)


A tremor lasting 10-12 seconds was felt from Norton 18 miles west to Norcatur and 38 miles northeast to Alma, NE. Dr. James Peoples recorded a small earthquake on the Lawrence seismograph (61). The focus was reported at 25 km depth. The center of activity was placed 10-15 miles north of Norton (17). Docekal (17) reports that a MM intensity V was observed at Almena, KS.

December 25, 1961, MM IV-V

Lat: 39° 21' Long: 94° 13' Near: Excelsior Springs, MO (not shown in Fig. 2)
Time: 6:20 and 7:00 a.m. Felt Area: 10,000 sq.mi. (25,900 (15)


On Christmas morning, two shocks were felt along the Kansas-Missouri border. The disturbances registered at nine seismograph stations and the focal depth was calculated to be 20 or 30 km. Reports from Lawson and Kearny, MO, near the center of activity, included cracked plaster, fallen objects, and many people awakened (15, 17). The epicenter has been located five miles north of Excelsior Springs, MO on the basis of seismic records. A complete report of the events has been published by Dellwig (15).


We owe special thanks to the following people from the Kansas Geological Survey for their help in preparing this paper:

In addition, we are grateful to Ruth Say (Wabaunsee County Register of Deeds) and Bob Knecht (Federal Archives and Records Center, Kansas City, Missouri) for taking time to personally search their records for specific information pertaining to earthquake reports.


1. Advocate-Democrat, Jan. 12, 1906, Marysville, KS.

2. Algermissen, S.T. (1969) Seismic Risk Studies in the united States: Proceedings of the Fourth World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, vol. 1, pp. 14-27, Santiago, Chile, NOAA reprint.

3. Alma Signal, Jan. 12, 1906, Alma, KS.

4. Arkansas City Traveler, May 1, 1925, Arkansas, KS.

5. Atchison Daily Champion, Apr. 25, 1867, Atchison, KS.

6. The Beloit Daily Call, Nov. 8, 1928.

7. Blue Rapids Times, Jan. 11, 1906, Blue Rapids, KS.

8. Coffman, J.L. and C.A. von Hake (1973) Earthquake History of the United States: Nat'l Oceanographic & Atmosph. Adm., Boulder, CO.

9. Commonwealth, Nov. 9, 10, 1875, Topeka, KS.

10. Commonwealth, Apr. 24, 1877, Topeka, KS.

11. Condra, G.E. (1927) The Stratigraphy of the Pennsylvanian System in Nebraska: Nebraska Geological Survey, Bulletin 1, 2nd ser. pp. l-29l.

12. Daily Free Press, Apr. 24, 1867, Atchison, KS.

13. Daily Free Press, Apr. 25, 1867, Atchison, KS.

14. Dellwig, L.F. (1956) The Barber County Earthquake of Jan. 6, 1956, Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 119, Part 5, pp. 175-185. [available online]

15. Dellwig, L.F. (1962) The Earthquakes of Dec. 25, 1961, Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 157, Part 1, pp. 3-12. [available online]

16. Dewey, Legends of the Wheat Country, p. 65, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, KS.

17. Docekal, Jerry, (1970) Earthquake History of the Stable Interior: University of Nebraska unpublished PhD. dissertation.

18. Dodge City Democrat, Oct. 28, 1904, Dodge City, KS.

19. Earthquake Clipping File, State Historical Society Library, Topeka, KS.

20. Earthquakes in Kansas, Kansas Historical Collections (1911-1912) Vol. VII, p. 208.

21. Ellis County News, Sept. lO, 1942, Hays, KS.

22. Emporia Gazette, Jan. 8, 1906, Emporia, KS.

23. Globe-Republican, Jan. l8, 1906, Dodge City, KS.

24. Hays Daily News, Sept. 10, 1942, Hays, KS.

25. Heck, N.H. (193l) U.S. Earthquakes, 1929: U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Series No. 511, pp. 8-9.

26. Heck, N.H. (1947) Earthquake History of U.S., Part 1, Continental U.S.: U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Series No. 609, pp. 1-83.

27. Heinrich, Ross R. (194l) Contribution to earthquake history of Missouri, Bulletin Seismological Society America, vol. 3l, no. 3, pp. l87-224.

28. Holton Recorder & Express, Nov. 11, 1875, Holton, KS.

29. Irving Leader, Jan. l2, 1906, Irving, KS.

30. Joliat, J.S. (1929) The Kansas Earthquake of 1929: Bulletin Seismological Society America, vol. 19, No. 14, pp. 237-238.

31. Junction City Union, Apr. 27, 1867, Junction City, KS.

32. Kansas City Star, Sept. 25, 1929, Kansas City, MO.

33. Kansas City Star, Aug. 9 & 10, 1931, Kansas City, MO.

34. Kansas Radical, Apr. 27, 1867, Manhattan, KS.

35. Kansas Reporter, Nov. 11, 1875, Louisville, KS.

36. Kansas State Historical Society Transactions (1912) vol. 12, pp. 121-131.

37. Lawrence Daily Journal, May 20, 1881, Lawrence, KS.

38. Lawrence Daily Journal, Jan. 8, 1906, Lawrence, KS.

39. Lawrence Daily Journal-World, Aug. 10, 1931, Lawrence, KS.

40. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, Apr. 25, 1867, Leavenworth, KS.

4l. Leavenworth Times, Apr. 25, 1867, Leavenworth, KS.

42. Lecompton Sun, Jan. l2, 1906, Lecompton, KS.

43. Lykins, H.R. (l867) American Journal Science, vol. 95, no. 130, p. 132.

44. Meade County Globe, Oct. 27, 1904, Meade, KS.

45. Merriam, D.F. (1956) History of Earthquakes in Kansas, Bulletin Seismological Society America, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 87-96.

46. Nationalist, Nov. 12, 1875, Manhattan, KS.

47. Newman, Frank (1932) U.S. Earthquakes, 1931: U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Series No. 553.

48. Newman, Frank (1935) U.S. Earthquakes, 1931: U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Series No. 579.

49. Parker, John D. (l867) Memoranda of the earthquake of Apr. 24, 1867: Kansas Collection of Spencer Research Library, Lawrence, KS.

50. Petersen, W.J. (1933) Earthquakes in Iowa, The Palimpset, State Historical Society of Iowa, vol. XIV, no. 4, pp. l60-l74.

51. Randolph Enterprise, Jan. 11, 1906, Randolph, KS.

52. Reid, H.F., (l882) American Journal Science, vol. 123.

53. Tabor, Milton (1928) "Earthquakes in Kansas", This Day in Kansas History, p. 141: State Historical Society, Topeka, KS.

54. Topeka Capital, Jan. 8, 1906, Topeka, KS.

55. Topeka Capital, Jul. 22, 1925, Topeka, KS.

56. Topeka Capital, Apr. 24, 1929, Topeka, KS.

57. Topeka Capital, Dec. 8, 1929, Topeka, KS.

58. Topeka Capital, Aug. 9 & 10, 1931, Topeka, KS.

59. Topeka Capital, Jan. 29, 1932, Topeka, KS.

60. Topeka Capital, May 11, 1955, Topeka, KS.

61. Topeka Capital, Apr. 14, 1961, Topeka, KS.

62. Topeka Journal, Jul. 19, 1929, Topeka, KS.

63. Topeka Journal, Nov. 28, 1929, Topeka, KS.

64. Topeka Journal, Jan. 6, 1956, Topeka, KS.

65. Topeka Journal, Aug. 24, 1956, Topeka, KS.

66. Valley Falls New Era, Nov. 13, 1875, Valley Falls, KS.

67. Wathena Times, Jan. 12, 1906, Wathena, KS.

68. Wathena Weekly Reporter, Jan. 12, 1906, Wathena, KS.

69. White Cloud Globe, Jan. 11, 1906, White Cloud, KS.

70. Wichita Morning Eagle, May 27 and July 27, 1919, Wichita, KS.

71. Wilder, D.W. (l886) The Annals of Kansas 154l-1885, Topeka, KS, pp. 456-777.

72. Williams, Wm. G. (1867) American Journal Science & Arts, 2nd Series, vol. 44, no. 130, p. 132.

Kansas Geological Survey
Placed on web Dec. 23, 2015; originally published April 1978.
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