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Largest Earthquake Since 1873 Strikes Klamath Falls

On Sept. 21, 1993, the largest earthquake in Oregon since 1873 struck Klamath Falls in the form of two pre-dawn, 6-magnitude shocks within an hour and 17 minutes of each other.  They were felt as far north as Eugene and as far south as Chico, Calif.  A rock-fall boulder crushed a car on Hwy 97, killing the driver, and another person died of a heart attack. The violent shaking caused some $10 million in damages to 1,000 homes and other buildings, among them the county courthouse.

  
 
A Western Oregon University study after the quake cited a state report that warned many Klamath County schools and public safety buildings could collapse in another large earthquake.  The study acknowledged that Klamath Falls had made “some progress … by enacting a dangerous building ordinance and retrofitting some buildings.” 
 
A regional geologist for Southwest Oregon was quoted as saying he was watching football in a Roseburg hotel room when the quake hit.  He said, “I remember the Denver Broncos were playing, because John Elway got tackled, then I felt the hotel shake. I thought, ‘That was a pretty good tackle!’

 
 
 
Source: Christensen, Arne. "A Day to Remember." Chronicling the Nisqually Earthquake and Other Northwest Quakes. Ed. Arne Christensen. 28 Feb. 2001. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. "Historic Earthquakes: Klamath Falls, Oregon." Earthquake Hazards Program. U.S. Geological Survey, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. 
 

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.