Shockwaves Buckle Roads, Crumple Buildings, Trigger Slide

By Vaughn Roche
An earthquake, registering 6.9 on the Richter scale, sent shockwaves rippling early Friday from near the tiny town of Challis, Idaho, throughout the Mountain West, killing two children and causing several injuries in central Idaho.
The deaths were the first attributed to an earthquake in the United States in 12 years.
The shockwave crumpled buildings and triggered earthslides in central Idaho and sent workers fleeing from cracking buildings in Boise. The quake was felt as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1,025 miles from Boise.
At least 15 aftershocks were measured within two hours of the initial quake, said Jim Bapis, a spokesman for the University of Utah Seismology Center. The strongest of the aftershocks came at 9:14 a.m. and measured 4.4.
In Salt Lake City, the Metropolitan Hall of Justice and the Salt Lake City-County Building, where coat hangers flew off racks, were evacuated for an hour and 20 minutes. Buildings swayed, stomachs churned and loose objects swung and flew. But neither injury nor serious damage was reported.
No injuries were reported in Utah, but two girls, 6 and 7, were killed by falling debris in Challis as they walked to school, said Diane Wren, administrative assistant for the County Sheriff's Department. Challis, a town of 758 people, is about 13 miles north of the earthquake's epicenter.
Two nuclear test reactors shut down immediately and automatically at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, 50 miles west of Idaho Falls. One came back on line 45 minutes later. Officials reported no damage to any of the federal facility's 15 reactors--13 of them turned off at the time--but said two administrative buildings were damaged slightly.
One woman in Mackay, a town of about 540, was injured when a wall fell on her, but the extent of her injury was not immediately known. Lost Rivers Hospital officials in Arco reported one injury but gave no details.
Wire service reports said the quake rattled and cracked buildings throughout several states. But details were not immediately available.
The Idaho State Police closed U.S. 93 between Mackay and Challis and Idaho 75 between Clayton and Stanley after boulders blocked lanes and buckled the roadway.
Minor damage was reported in Pocatello from the quake, estimated as lasting 30 seconds to a minute.
Custer County Sheriff Ken Bowers said there was no damage to the Mackay Reservoir, six miles northwest of Mackay. Little Wood Dam, east of Hailey, also escaped damage.
No injuries were reported at Moritz Community Hospital in Sun Valley or the Idaho Falls hospitals, those closest to the quake's epicenter. However, a flood of telephone calls kept reporters from reaching officials in towns closest to the quake's origin, about 120 miles east of Boise and 110 miles northwest of Pocatello.
Officials at the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colo., said the quake hit at 8:06 a.m. Boise State University officials said the epicenter was near Clayton, along the Challis-Stanley fault.
Bill Richins, a seismologist with the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, termed the disturbance a major quake.
"It's the largest quake in the intermountain region since 1959, when the Hebgen Lake, Mont., earthquake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale," Richins said.
The Richter scale is a gauge of the energy released by an earthquake, as measured by the ground motion recorded on a seismograph.
An Idaho State Police official said buildings were cracked in Boise, where office workers fled outside when the quake rolled through the city.
The earthquake was felt in eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and all of Idaho, as well as in parts of Montana, Wyoming and Utah.
"That's a very solid quake," said Leroy Irby, geophysicist with the National Earthquake Center. "The famous one that hit San Francisco was in the 8 range. But so far we have no reports of injuries or great damage."
In Challis, firefighter Ed Reimann reported building fronts crumbled, windows shattered and drivers were forced off roadways as the quake thundered through the area.
Mackay Fire Department officials said all buildings in the central business district were damaged extensively. At least one collapsed as a cloud of dust enveloped the town.
The quake reportedly extended into the Spokane, Wash., area and as far north in Idaho as Moscow. It also was felt in Rexburg, St. Anthony, Caldwell, Marsing, Rupert, Blackfoot, Sandpoint, Grangeville, St. Maries, Burley and other areas of central and southern Idaho.
Residents of northern Salt Lake County, Logan and Hyrum in Utah also reported feeling the ground swaying beneath their feet, and the quake was also noticed in Jackpot, Nev.
In Burley, alarmed residents fled from a downtown coffee shop when the windows began rippling.
In Boise, elevators swayed, plaster fell and motorists reported their cars rattled with the pitching of the ground under the shock waves.
Idaho Gov. John Evans was in his office when the earthquake struck, but a spokesman said everyone in the Capitol stayed calm.
Idaho residents said the earthquake caused chandeliers to sway up to 3 feet and shook water in water beds with wave-like motions. Trees shook as if under the force of heavy winds.
Diners in a downtown Boise hotel scurried away from shaking light fixtures in fear.
State Prison Warden Darrol Gardner said he felt the quake at the corrections facility south of Boise. He said there was no damage and no reports of inmate problems.
Don Finley, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va., said the quake was "the strongest ever recorded in that part of Idaho."
However, he said it was not as strong as the quake that occurred 140 miles to the northeast Aug. 17, 1959, at Hebgen Lake, Mont. That quake killed 28 people.
"Friday's Idaho quake also was the strongest in the 48 states since the Hebgen Lake quake in 1959," Finley said.
He said it has been 12 years since anyone died in an earthquake in the continental United States.
"The last time anyone was killed by an earthquake in the 48 states was the San Fernando Valley earthquake in California Feb. 9, 1971. This was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 50 people."
[Deseret News; October 28, 1983]


Swaying buildings were evacuated, hangers flew off coat racks, chandeliers swayed, stomachs churned, but neither injury nor serious damage was reported in Utah as its residents braced against an earthquake that struck Idaho a killer's blow just after 8 a.m. Friday.
About 1,000 people were evacuated from the Salt Lake City-County Building, the Metropolitan Hall of Justice and the county complex at 2100 S. State as a precaution immediately after the 8:06 a.m. quake. But workers were sent back to work about 9:20 a.m. after engineers determined aftershocks would present no danger.
"This place was really swaying," said John Inch Morgan, administrative assistant to Salt Lake County Commissioner Tom Shimizu as he waited outside the building. "The large chandeliers were really swaying, and the coat hangers were flying off the racks."
The quake, registering 6.9 on the Richter Scale, was centered near Challis, Idaho, where two girls, ages 6 and 7, were killed by falling debris as they walked to school. Several injuries were reported in Challis and in Mackay, 80 miles away. Their severity was not known.
In northern Salt Lake County, Logan and Hyrum, residents reported feeling the ground sway beneath their feet.
In Wendover, Sgt. Ken Bryant, with the Utah Highway Patrol's port of entry in Wendover, described the quake as a "subtle rocking. It felt as though we were on a boat. It went on for about 20 seconds. All of a sudden it felt like we were floating. It didn't seem as if it were ever going to end."
Olivia King of Oakridge Village, Farmington, said, "I was combing my little girl's hair in the bathroom, and the lamps started to sway, and then we went into the kitchen and the lamps were swaying and the chandelier. It wasn't like a roar. It was just swaying. It went on for 40 seconds. I came out to tell my neighbor, and he thought he was having a heart flutter because he felt the movement in his home."
Lance Aagard, an auditor with the tax commission in the Heber M. Wells Building, 160 E. Third South, Salt Lake City, said, "I'm on the sixth floor, and I felt a swaying back and forth. It wasn't shaking, just moving back and forth. It gave me an almost sickening feeling. You just feel yourself swaying back and forth. Kind of an exciting reaction, but no panic."
Victor Morris, 935 S. 10th West, said his doorbell chimes banged together and rang as his kitchen chandelier swayed.
Salt Lake County Commissioner Bart Barker said he and Commissioner Shimizu decided to evacuate the county buildings, fearing that aftershocks could cause more extensive damage.
Britton said seismologists have detected numerous tremors, imperceptible to humans, since an earthquake struck the Salt Lake Valley Oct. 8 and an aftershock hit Oct. 11. The quakes were centered two miles south of the Salt Lake International Airport and registered 4.25 and 3.0, respectively, on the Richter Scale.
Barker said officials feared the quakes could be "swarming," leading to a major quake somewhere along the Wasatch Fault.
Barker and Shimizu, in the Emergency Operations bunker beneath the Hall of Justice, permitted workers to re-enter the three buildings after the 4.4 aftershock, the strongest of 15 centered in Idaho, caused little ground movement in Salt Lake City.
Shimizu, a structural engineer, said the Hall of Justice swayed one foot during the earthquake. There was some minor damage to exterior concrete blocks. The blocks were chipped when they rubbed against each other during the quake.
Shimizu said some interior hairline cracks also were found in the building, but they may be old cracks. Employees in the building's upper floors said the swaying sent papers and other office supplies flying.
Phil Erickson, city general services manager, said he found no new damage to the City-County Building. Cracks from the last earthquake were not enlarged.
Employees in the 89-year-old structure said the motion during the earthquake was not violent, but many felt the floors rolling and became sick to their stomachs.
Deputy sheriffs were asked to evacuate the buildings, but a transient, fighting to stay inside, played cat and mouse with them for several minutes before being ushered out.
Recent studies predict the City-County Building's clock tower would partially collapse during a local earthquake of between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale. A 7.0 to 7.5 earthquake occurring locally would collapse the building.
City and county crews are attempting to shore up the building.
No damage was found in the four-story county complex at 21st South.
LeRoy W. Hooton, director of city public utilities, said his crews also checked the condition of the 60-year-old Mountain Dell Reservoir in Parleys Canyon and found no damage.
A spokeswoman in the offices of the LDS Church said the quake was seen more than felt in the church's 28-story building, Salt Lake City's tallest. She said hanging plants and signs swayed.
Kay Heaps, a secretary on the eighth floor of the Hall of Justice, said workers became light-headed and nauseous. "There was quite a bit of motion," she said.
[Deseret News; October 28, 1983]

Towns Tackle Rescue And Repair Of Declared Disaster Area

By Glen Warchol and Brett DelPorto
Central Idaho is distinctive for craggy mountains and barren lava fields, evidence of ancient forces that still dwell beneath the high desert. Those forces returned Friday, in an earthquake that changed surface features once again and left two children dead.
Residents in the quake-ridden towns of Mackay and Challis began rescue and cleanup operations Friday evening in the wake of the killer quake that toppled buildings, sent boulders crashing into homes and released geothermal springs from mountainsides.
Idaho Gov. John Evans, who spent six hours Friday touring the carnage on a National Guard airplane, estimated the damage at between $4 million and $5 million.
Evans, clad in jeans with a western tie and shirt, said Challis was not as seriously damaged as was at first feared, but he said eight out of 10 buildings in Mackay will have to be replaced.
He said residents of both towns are beginning to clear away the debris. He commended the camaraderie and courage residents have shown, which, he said is reminiscent of the Teton Dam disaster in 1976, when eastern Idaho residents worked together to clean up after the dam collapsed and flooded the area.
"They're in good spirits. We couldn't ask for better," the governor said shortly after returning to Boise. "I'm very proud of everybody today."
Residents of Custer County, where the quake centered, were being asked to boil domestic water through Saturday, when state health inspectors will check for possible contamination, Evans said.
Earlier in the day, Evans declared a state of disaster in Custer County, where the quake's epicenter was located, 110 miles northwest of Pocatello near Mackay and just west of Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest point.
He was earlier considering sending National Guard troops into the quake area, but no decision was immediately reached.
Tara Leadon, 7-year-old daughter of Sally and Frank Leadon, and 6-year-old Travis Franck, died when a store front collapsed in Challis and covered them with four feet of debris.
The quake which officials estimate was between 6.9 and 7.2 on the Richter scale, injured several people and damaged buildings in the mountain towns of Challis, Mackay and Clayton as the quake struck at 8:06 a.m.
"It felt like Paul Bunyan picked me up and shook me," said Cloyd Olsen of Mackay.
A few blocks away, a massive boulder slipped down a mountain and landed in front of a home, knocking down a tree and a power line. Neighbors said no one was in the home.
A collapsing wall crushed a Mackay woman's car as she stepped out of it. She was taken to a local hospital, suffering a broken leg, said Mayor Oval Caskey.
Caskey said a butte 20 miles north of the epicenter spouted water when a fissure appeared along its face and the base of Mt. Borah. He said nearby Mackay reservoir was being watched for fear of the new water supply causing it to overflow.
Deputy Sheriff Darb Hinz, in Mackay, said nearly every building in the town was damaged. Almost every home was shorn of its chimney. Newsmen and residents stumbled through streets littered with brick, concrete and wood debris.
"There was a big rumble. I ran out," he said. "The building had already fallen."
Several Challis houses were damaged by large rocks that tumbled from a sheer ridge only 300 yards from Main street. The town's high school was closed for fear that any aftershocks would topple the old building.
The earthquake caused ceilings and some walls to collapse in mines in the central Idaho.
The Cypress-Thomsen molybdenum mine 30 miles west of Challis is a surface mine cutting into a mountain. The shaking dislodged small slides causing the area to be evacuated.
"We were all dodging rocks," said David Jarvis, a mining engineer. "But no one was hurt."
Jarvis said his biggest worry was the earthen dikes that hold the tailings slurry from the ore.
"Our slurry ponds are built to withstand 8.1 on the Richter scale, and they rode it out well," he said. There are chemicals in the slurry that would have gone into the Salmon River that would cause serious ecological damage."
At the Clayton Silver Mine near Clayton, Idaho, miners miraculously escaped injury when they were called above ground for a meeting shortly before the quake hit, collapsing some of the mine ceilings.
"They were lucky," Jarvis said. "I'm sure they would have had some injuries had they been down there."
The earthquake caused destruction hundreds of miles from the epicenter. The chimney on the Beaverhead County, Mont., courthouse collapsed and brick walls of the Ravalli Republic newspaper offices in Hamilton, Mont., cracked, said editor Steve Fullerton. The Federal Building in Butte was temporarily evacuated and cracked plaster and a light fixture broke loose.
Students in a seven-story dormitory building at Boise State University suffered more scare than damage when the building began to shake and shimmy in the quake and its aftershocks. Some thought their schoolmates were playing a prank.
"The first time I knew it wasn't Grace (Blood, her roommate) shaking the bed was when things on the wall started shaking," said seventh-floor resident Cindy Finch.
Larry Burke, director of university relations, said school buildings were evacuated until they could be checked for structural damage. But by late morning, campus activity was just about back to normal.
Idaho State Police Cpl. Ron Hoodenpyle said although local residents were shaken by the incident, he thought out-of-state hunters showed more fear.
The experience was especially unpleasant for one California sportsman who said he was used to earthquakes, but had come to Idaho "to get away from all that."
A Mackay bank executive said the intensity of the quake released a loud noise that rumbled throughout the small, isolated town.
"At first I thought it was a sonic boom, but then all hell broke loose," Idaho First National Bank Manager Larry Hogg said. "At that point, I was as scared as I have ever been in my life. I really thought my home was going to crumble on me."
In nearby Lemhi County, Sheriff Bill Baker said the moving earth pushed a dump truck down a small cliff, slamming it into construction equipment at a local gravel pit.
Department of Energy spokeswoman Anne Hosford said the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory near Idaho Falls escaped damage. There were no reports of any radiation leakage.
She said two of the facility's 15 reactors were running at the time of the quake, but were automatically shut off by seismographic monitors.
Ms. Hosford also said there was no damage to the facility's nuclear waste disposal site.
Most of the dams in Idaho seemed to be holding their own, but John Keys, regional Bureau of Reclamation director in Boise, said the Mackay Dam five miles northwest of Mackay has a problem.
"The structure itself is in pretty good shape but there is a crack in a spillway with a visual and muddy discharge" issuing out, he said. He said the discharge meant there had been some movement within the structure, but he had no other details.
The quake also triggered a geothermal hot spring along Idaho Highway 75, which was closed due to rockslides and cracks in the pavement. U.S. 93, the other major route, also remained closed, with a 6-foot drop reported for one section of highway.
Seismologists said the quake, which lasted 30 to 60 seconds, was the worst to hit Idaho in a century and the most severe in the Mountain West since 1959. Besides Idaho, the quake was felt in Utah, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
It was the strongest in the region since the 7.2 quake that occurred 140 miles to the northeast Aug. 17, 1959, at Hebgen Lake, Mont. That quake killed 28 people.
The largest earthquake in Utah recorded in historic times was a 6.6 Hansel Valley earthquake in 1934.
Roughly 65 aftershocks had been recorded by late afternoon. The largest aftershock, following the principal 8:06 a.m. quake, occurred about 1:51 p.m. and had a magnitude of about 5.5. A magnitude 4.4 aftershock occurred earlier at 9:14 a.m. Aftershocks of this size are not considered unusual following earthquakes such as this.
[Deseret News; October 29, 1983]


By Lee Davidson
The earthquake in Idaho Friday shook University of Utah seismologists into action, but made most other Utahns simply tremble and wonder if more earthquakes are coming.
Six University of Utah seismologists took two trucks of equipment, including 12 portable seismographs, to the epicenter near Mackay, Idaho, Friday to gain more information about they call "the most significant event in 25 years."
"The extra equipment will help us get a more detailed look at what's going on underground. It should tell us how deep the earthquakes are and give us more clues about what is causing them," said Tom Owens, who is working on a doctorate in seismology.
Meanwhile, other Utahns from local disaster relief organizations were also heading north with medical supplies, food and emergency services.
Don Cobb, director of public affairs for the Salt Lake chapter of the American Red Cross, said several local members left late Friday for Idaho.
He identified the workers as P. Landon Rich, supervisor of the Salt Lake Disaster Action Team; Ted Powell, volunteer director of Disaster Operations and Planning; and Carl Balsley, educational coordinator for the group's blood services and nursing.
Cobb said the Red Cross Western Operational Headquarters in California is sending 20 disaster specialists to headquarters in Boise. He said the Utah Red Cross workers will assist other members from Idaho and surrounding states in the effort.
"We're going to be gearing up for mass care in Boise," Cobb said.
He said that because many of the roads into quake torn areas are blocked, workers are prepared to carry needed supplies in on foot if necessary.
"My guess is they'll probably have to hike a lot of this stuff in," Cobb said.
He said Utahns who want to contribute to relief effort can send money to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 8687, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84108.
Don LeFevre, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said no aid had been requested by local church leaders in areas close to the epicenter of the earthquake.
"If they need help, we always have a semi-truck loaded with tents and other emergency equipment standing by at a central bishop's storehouse in Idaho Falls. We haven't received any word from local priesthood leaders on whether they need help, so they may be able to handle things themselves."
Spokesmen for the State Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management said they had not received any requests for aid from Idaho either, but were standing by to help if necessary.
Owens was one of the students left in charge of the university's seismology station while professors and other students traveled to Idaho. Seismology director Walter Arabasz was on vacation.
"We don't know a lot about what causes earthquakes in this area. This earthquake is the biggest since the Hebgen Lake, Mont., earthquake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale in 1959, and it should offer a wealth of information."
Owens said the university will work with other seismologists and geologists from Boise State University and the U.S. Geological survey to study the aftershocks. He said the university will keep personnel in the field as long as good size aftershocks continue.
The U. of U. seismology station says 65 aftershocks have been recorded as of 3:45 p.m. A 5.5 aftershock, the largest yet recorded, occurred at approx. 1:51 p.m. A 4.4 aftershock occurred earlier at 9:14 a.m. Aftershocks of this size are not considered unusual following earthquakes of Friday's magnitude.
"The aftershocks could continue for weeks, months or even years. The Lake Hebgen earthquake may have had aftershocks as late as the early 1970s, but seismologists argue whether those later earthquakes were actually aftershocks or just separate events."
Owens said the Idaho earthquake was not caused by the same stresses that forced smaller earthquakes recently in the Salt Lake Valley.
"However, we have the same types of faults here, so we could have an earthquake just as big here in the future."
Owens also said the Idaho quake was so far away that there is little chance it could trigger additional activity along the Wasatch Fault. "If it did, it would only be at the northern end of the fault. The likelihood of that is very small though."
He said Utahns living on the valley floors more likely felt the earthquake Friday than those living in bench areas.
"The sediment left by old Lake Bonneville in the valley seems to amplify the ground movement more than rocky or bench areas."
The earthquake led to the evacuation of the Salt Lake City-County Building, the Metropolitan Hall of Justice and the county complex, 2100 S. State--all located on the valley floor.
Only the Metropolitan Hall of Justice tower sustained any damage when decorative exterior blocks rubbed against each other and chipped while the building swayed from the ground motion.
[Deseret News; October 29, 1983]


By Glen Warchol
CHALLIS, Idaho--The deaths of Travis Franck and Tara Leadon--the only two fatal victims of Friday's earthquake--was shocking and puzzling to residents of the small, tightly knit mountain community of Challis.
The residents were stunned as word spread of the coincidences involved in the deaths of 6-year-old Travis and 7-year-old Tara.
Tara and Travis always stopped in Alan Hardman's dry goods store on Main Street and met Jessica Savage on their way to school. For some reason they didn't Friday and were crushed beneath tons of cut stone when the front of the Bargain Barn, a second-hand shop, collapsed.
Jessica, who was late, was spared. Her mother, however, saw the children disappear in a cloud of gray dust caused by the crumbling mortar. When men from a nearby cafe cleared the rubble, the children were found in the gutter dead.
"They usually stop in the store and wait for the other kids," said Jan Hardman. "This morning they didn't. We don't know why."
"The girl started to cross the street away from the building, but the boy hollered for her to come back," said Hardman. "He saw a car coming. That's when the building fell."
The second-hand shop, built of massive stone blocks 75 years ago as an ice house, was the only building to collapse onto the half-mile stretch of Challis' Main Street.
"It was a freakish thing," said Bev Bowers, who works in Hardman's store. "It was the only building on the street that collapsed. They just happened to be there."
When Mrs. Hardman and Mrs. Bowers first arrived in Challis Friday afternoon, they were terrified that it had been their own children crushed under the rubble.
"We heard the reports that two children were killed," said Mrs. Hardman, sobbing. "But we didn't know if they were ours or not."
The relief lasted only a few seconds before being replaced by grief for the two children.
[Deseret News; October 29, 1983]


If Friday's Idaho earthquake had occurred along the Wasatch Fault in Salt Lake County, property damage would approach $1 billion and, depending on the time of the day of the quake, hundreds of people would have been killed, U.S. Geological Survey geologists predict.
Buildings astride the fault would be ripped in half. But most of the damage would occur on the valley floor, where shock waves would rumble through soft dirt, like waves on a pond. The wave effect is actually more destructive to buildings than earth cracking, geologists say.
Friday's earthquake, which killed two children, is a grim reminder of life in an active seismic zone, scientists said.
Utah and Idaho are the second most active earthquake areas in the West, ranking behind only California.
The Mountain West earthquake zone runs from southwestern Utah to southwestern Montana. Since 1850, when settlers inhabited Utah, there have been 127 earthquakes registering 4.0 or greater on the Richter scale in the state.
Many smaller earthquakes, some undetectable by humans, often occur.
But the big quakes are well remembered. In 1959 a 7.1 earthquake rocked the Hebgen Lake area of Yellowstone Park, creating a new lake. In 1975 a 6.0 earthquake rolled along the Utah-Idaho border, causing about$1 million damage.
The early morning Oct. 8 earthquake that woke Utahns from sleep was only 4.25 on the Richter scale, 100 times weaker than the 6.9 quake that rocked Idaho.
Robert B. Smith of the University of Utah seismic station has tracked hundreds of small Utah earthquakes occurring since 1909. He said the Wasatch Fault near Ogden and Provo hasn't moved in a number of years. That's not good, since earthquakes happen when massive pressures deep in the earth build up to a breaking point.
The more small earthquakes, the less likely the chance of a really large quake. There are sections of the fault 20 miles long that have been locked up for some time. A shift along a 20-mile stretch would be at least a 7.0 on the Richter scale--a major earthquake, Smith said.
[Deseret News; October 29, 1983]


By Glen Warchol
CHALLIS, Idaho--The sky above the towns of Challis and Mackay, Idaho resembled Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in miniature as the news media's jets, helicopters and airplanes circled, waiting to land.
Television choppers and smaller planes caused disaster workers and residents to duck as they swooped in shooting aerial footage of tiny Mackay's crumpled storefronts.
Mackay's short, rutted airstrip was unable to handle the television networks' Lear jets, forcing the rental of helicopters and smaller aircraft.
With no ground controllers at the blacktopped airstrips, pilots worked out landing and takeoff etiquette among themselves. Reporters doubled as lookouts, spotting competing aircraft to avoid air collisions that could have caused several times the casualties of the earthquake itself.
"It's a real zoo down here," a pilot on the ground radioed the Deseret News' chartered pilot. "Don't park on the ramp. When you land, roll over to the hangers and we'll squeeze you in."
Reporters and photographers hitched rides to and from the towns in the beds of local residents' pickup trucks. In Challis, Sylvia Markley, a Custer County sheriff's dispatcher spent her day shuttling news personnel over the two miles from airstrip to town.
Ironically, the problems of damaged telephone lines in Central Idaho were exacerbated when thousands of calls placed by reporters from all over the country jammed into the system.
The Idahoans' response to the crush of newsmen from the three major networks, Western and local newspapers, radio and television was surprisingly cordial. They were willing to tell their stories of the quakes and pose before rubble and crushed automobiles for photographs that will be seen throughout the country.
Mayor Oval Caskey of Mackay patiently allowed himself to be dragged from one damaged building to another by television crews and photographers, repeating for the hundredth time that the situation was "stable," every chimney in town had toppled and only one of his 550 neighbors was hurt, but "she's darn lucky to be alive." Two children were killed in nearby Challis, however.
All in all, Caskey said, the invasion of media was less disruptive than the earthquake.
"You can always shut the press off if you have to," he said. "Earthquakes are another thing altogether."
[Deseret News; October 29, 1983]


By Pam Wade
Central Idaho residents concentrated this weekend on dealing with the emotional and geological aftershocks of a massive earthquake that rocked eight western states, leaving two children dead.
Residents of the small Idaho towns of Challis and Mackay, hardest hit by the quake, cleaned up debris from the quake that toppled buildings and sent boulders crashing into homes. Four major aftershocks, including two Saturday evening, and hundreds of smaller ones continue to shake the area.
Meanwhile, searchers combed Idaho's vast forests to ensure no hunters or campers had been trapped or injured.
The quake, estimated at between 6.9 and 7.2 on the Richter scale, was centered 110 miles northwest of Pocatello, just west of Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest point. Damage estimates ranged up to $5 million.
While residents mourned the loss of two area children and took personal stock of the disaster, state and local officials set in motion the mechanisms that will lead to community rebuilding.
The Mackay City Council met Saturday to declare an emergency--a legal requirement to spend city funds on the cleanup--and assess the damage in the city of 550 residents.
Mayor Orval Caskey said state officials reported 20 buildings in a three-block area of Mackay sustained major damage estimated at $1.5 million. While the only deaths occurred in Challis, about 50 miles away, the greatest structural damage occurred in Mackay.
Caskey said Mackay's streets and sidewalks have been cleared, but no buildings have been torn down.
Residents are calm, and everything is under control, he said. "We're going to rebuild. We're a very hardy group of people in Mackay."
Challis resident Jan Hardman said Saturday that residents did what immediate cleanup was required, but then attempted to spend the weekend quietly.
"I think the town is kind of in shock and trying to rest today."
Two Challis school children were killed when a building front crumbled and the youngsters were crushed beneath tons of stone.
Tara Leaton, 7, and Travis Franck, 6, died when they were buried by the rock front that fell from J.P.'s Bargain Barn as they walked to school.
One woman in Mackay was hospitalized with leg injuries and a few others were treated for minor injuries.
Mrs. Hardman said workers bulldozed the rest of the Bargain Barn front to prevent any more accidents. That building and the local high school were roped off.
A home hit by a boulder shaken loose during the quake has been boarded up.
"We're pretty well stunned and shocked over the two little ones and kind of sitting back trying to grasp the situation," she said.
Salmon River Stages canceled its bus run through Challis because officials were preventing any heavy traffic from crossing Willow Pass between Challis and Mackay, said Mrs. Hardman, who, with her husband, runs the Challis Transportation Co.
Tim Reimann, Mackay assistant fire chief and head of the emergency medical command during the disaster, said residents were organizing Saturday to help clean up businesses downtown, where most of the damage occurred.
"Both grocery stores were hit real hard. We're trying to get them open to serve the community," he said.
The emotional state of the residents is mixed, he said, and its been traumatic for most.
"We haven't ever been through anything like this."
Several psychiatrists said in interviews that Idahoans caught in the earthquake could suffer anxiety and stress.
Dr. James Cooper, Boise, said that in some cases people who witnessed injuries or extensive damage could develop post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental disturbance affecting some combat veterans.
He said people suffering from the disorder may experience flashbacks, isolation from the outside world, heightened sensitivity, sleep disturbances and feelings of guilt.
Experts said some people developed similar post disaster symptoms after the 1976 Teton Dam disaster.
"When we feel that we don't really have control, anxiety starts to skyrocket," said Dr. Thomas Kruzich. "I think all of us are going to be a little sensitive for the next few days."
Kruzich said people upset about the quake should talk to others about their worries, and parents should try to comfort their children by explaining earthquakes.
While residents were still being asked to boil water as a precaution, most community services were running back to normal Saturday, Reimann said. An ambulance run, unrelated to the earthquake, was made Saturday morning, along with a response to a false fire alarm.
In Challis, Custer County Sheriff's dispatcher Sylvia Markley said officials were searching the back country for any missing hunters or campers. She said the sheriff's office had received numerous inquiries from Idaho and elsewhere from people concerned about the safety of relatives and friends.
Authorities were watching for looters in the damaged downtown areas, but said no looting had been reported.
The Rev. William Mai, minister of the Mackay Community Church, said most church members he has spoken with were not too upset by the events of the past two days.
Mai planned no special earthquake-related message in his Sunday sermon, although he did plan to discuss attitude, a subject he said could apply to the situation in which the residents have found themselves.
"We're confident it's in the Lord's hands."
Steven W. Tibbitts, president of the Moore Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Mackay area, said local church members were thankful there were no more injuries or deaths than there were.
Most of the damage to homes was in toppled chimneys. Church buildings received minor or no damage, he said.
"The people are taking it pretty well. The people are quite resourceful, and they already have plans to build back. In a little time you'll never know what happened."
Initially, residents were quite concerned with the aftershocks, Tibbits said, but now they seem to be taking it in stride.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the seismograph station at Ricks College in Rexburg said aftershocks were running at the rate of one a minute on Friday. Saturday the temblors, most imperceptible, were averaging one every three minutes.
The spokeswoman said residents should not be overly concerned about the aftershocks because they are the natural settling of the earth after an earthquake.
Seismologists at the University of Utah Seismograph Station said Saturday they had recorded more than 150 aftershocks since the major quake hit at 8:06 a.m. Friday.
Dr. Jim Pechmann, research seismologist, said all but four of them were 4 or less on the Richter scale. One measuring 4.4 occurred at 9:14 a.m. Friday and one at 5.5 at 1:51 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, an aftershock measuring 5.5 occurred at 5:29 p.m. and another measuring 5.1 occurred at 5:40 p.m.
Pechmann said the discrepancy between the Utah and the Idaho numbers of aftershocks resulted because the Utah station was recording from equipment farther away from the epicenter and only counting those quakes over 1.5 on the Richter scale.
He said the exact location of the aftershocks has not been pinpointed, although most of them would likely have been in the vicinity of a 14-mile-long scarp cut by the earthquake. Scientists in aircraft spotted the scarp Friday afternoon on the southwest flank of the Lost River Range, 20 miles northwest of Mackay. The scarp's maximum height was about two meters, Pechmann said.
Scientists were not surprised that an earthquake of the magnitude of Friday's quake occurred where it did, Pechmann said.
A quake with a magnitude of 7.1 occurred in Montana in 1959 and one estimated to be in the upper 6 range occurred near Helena, Mont., in 1925. Abundant geologic evidence also indicates large earthquakes in the past along many mountain fronts in the Mountain West, he said.
Despite that, there was very little seismographic equipment in the immediate area.
Six U. of U. seismologists were in Idaho Saturday, setting up portable equipment to better record the aftershocks.
Scientists from other centers, including Boise, Rexburg and California, were also at the scene.
People attempting to find out about relatives in the quake-struck areas also had problems. Telephone lines became overloaded in what Mountain Bell officials described as the highest use of lines in Idaho ever.
Spokesman Steve Guerber said about 750,000 long distance calls were placed around the state Friday, compared to Idaho's normal peak long distance demand of about 630,000 calls during a 24-hour period.
Guerber said the telephone company's switching equipment was overloaded much of the day--as many callers learned when they received recorded messages saying their call could not be placed.
Jeanne Terra, press secretary to Idaho Gov. John Evans, said state workers from several departments, including the Idaho adjutant general, were in the quake ravaged area to assess damages.
Evans declared the area a disaster Friday, allowing state workers to assist in the local cleanup and rebuilding. Evans estimated damage at between $4 million and $5 million.
Ms. Terra said a primary concern is the condition of the Mackay Reservoir. "There are no problems so far, but we're going to pull the water level down five feet to relieve the pressure a little."
She said all roads were open in the area, although traffic was limited on some.
Evans planned to decide after the weekend assessment whether he would seek declaration of the area as a national disaster.
"We estimate quite a few of the buildings will have to be replaced in both Mackay and Challis," Ms. Terra said.
Officials found no injuries at either of the area's two major mines, one underground and one an open pit.
In Grand View, the quake caused some settling of soil covering abandoned missile silos used for storage of hazardous waste, but there was no indication the quake caused damage or spills of the waste, said Steve Provant, Environmental Protection Agency team leader, Boise.
No damage was reported to any of the 15 nuclear reactors at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering Laboratory about 12 miles southeast of Mackay.
Anne Hosford of the Department of Energy said the two reactors operating at the time automatically shut down when the quake occurred. One was returned to operation and the other remained down for routine test analysis. She said two administration buildings had cracks but no serious damage.
[Deseret News; October 30, 1983]


CHALLIS, Idaho (AP)--Hunters were forced to leave their vehicles behind in the Borah Peak area of the Challis National Forest when Friday's earthquake opened a large fissure in a back country road near Chilly, preventing them from driving past.
Other hunters, unable to get past boulders or trees that have fallen onto other roads, also walked out of the forest, said Earl La'Orange, public information coordinator for the Forest Service.
"But they're apparently all safe, and there have been no injuries," said La'Orange. License numbers on the vehicles were collected, and telephone calls were made to confirm no one was hurt.
Numerous roads in the Challis forest are impassible due to fallen trees or landslides, and travel on open roads in the forest is not advised, said La'Orange.
"The forest has not been officially closed, as such. But what we are trying to do is simply encourage people not to go into that area."
La'Orange said he was unable to make direct contact with Challis administrators because of telephone disruptions, but he has been kept advised of the situation by the regional office in Ogden.
"We are discouraging people from traveling in the adjacent forests, and the Fish and Game Department is discouraging hunters from going into that area for at least the next week or so.
"There is always the potential of a second major tremor or quake," said La'Orange.
He said the Forest Service is particularly concerned about the large number of fishermen being drawn to the Salmon River and its tributaries by the steelhead season.
"We are suggesting that people not camp under trees or near mountains, with rockslides or landslides possible," he said.
He noted that the popular Corn Creek and North Fork of the Salmon "have very few places to actually camp," and officials recommend against entering those areas.
Dick Hauff, Salmon National Forest supervisor, said the quake's most noticeable effects in the forest are rock falls, slides and fallen snags.
He said there is a probability of more strong shocks over the next two weeks. He said visitors should take two precautions:
  • Keep watch while camping, parking or stopping for any length of time, and stay away from dead trees, the bottoms of steep slopes and bottoms and sides of bluffs.
  • Travel forest roads cautiously, keeping watch for possible rock slides.
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area has not been closed to vehicle traffic, said Allan Ashton, supervisor.
He said the eastern part of the Salmon road was temporarily closed, but the debris has since been cleared.
One of his crews flew over the area Friday and found no major blockages on the recreation area's roads, except some rocks in the Big Boulder Creek area. And a crew visited an isolated mining operation on the Silver Rule Creek to make sure miners were safe, he added.
"There was no problem in the Yankee Fork Ranger District (of the Challis), which is the nearest to the SNRA," said Ashton.
[Deseret News; October 30, 1983]


CHALLIS, Idaho (UPI)--A Challis resident caught in Friday's earthquake says she was more upset with a pushy television news crew than she was with a 400 pound boulder that crashed into her home.
Pam Markley says the news crew strolled into her damaged house to take a look at the damage when nobody was home.
"I can't believe they just walked in here without anybody in the house," Ms. Markley said. "They sure have a lot of nerve. Just who do these people think they are?"
Ms. Markley quickly became a news celebrity as journalists converged on her heavily damaged home.
Dozens of reporters from Idaho, California, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah swarmed to Mackay and Challis Friday to get a firsthand look at the damage.
From San Francisco came a television network correspondent, at least two film crews and a reporter for a San Francisco newspaper.
When asked if she was scared, Ms. Markley replied, "Sure. I had been hearing a lot about the Russians, Beirut, and Grenada, and I first thought we were being invaded."
Some Challis residents said they were worried that another disaster would occur in the air as several helicopters and airplanes filled the sky above the mountainous central Idaho town.
When a small jet carrying reporters roared over Mackay, some residents said they feared the noise from the aircraft's engines would knock over some unstable buildings.
The plane also upset local pilots when it temporarily blocked a runway.
"Just who do they think they are?" one local pilot asked.
[Deseret News; October 30, 1983]


Utah geologists are asking for help in determining the effect Friday's Idaho earthquake had on Utah.
Bruce Kaliser, chief of the hazards section of the Utah Geological Survey, said Utah residents who have information about effects or damage from the quake should let his office know.
Information can be sent to: Bruce Kaliser, I.Q., Hazards Section, Utah Geological Survey, 606 Black Hawk Way, Salt Lake City, 84108.
Kaliser said geologists are looking specifically for ground effects, such as cracks on slopes or river banks and in sidewalks. He also is interested in damage to any structures.
Residents should also report any effects on springs or wells, which may include cloudy water or a change in flow or level.
Kaliser said his office also is interested in reports of objects moving on shelves or the floor.
Personal accounts of how it felt during the earthquake or of such minor things as swaying of light fixtures are not needed.
Reports of these effects helps scientists in studying earthquakes, he said.
[Deseret News; October 30, 1983]


CHALLIS, Idaho--Aftershocks continued to rumble in central Idaho over the weekend in the wake of Friday's killer earthquake, and Boise police tried to track down a crank caller who told a radio station a quake was about to rock the capital city.
The Friday quake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale and felt in eight states, collapsed buildings in Mackay and Challis and killed two Challis children who were crushed by tons of rock from a collapsing building as they walked to school.
Searchers continued to comb the mountains surrounding the quake area Monday for hunters reported overdue, but authorities believe most of them have now left the area. It appeared many delayed returns were caused by difficulty in getting vehicles out of quake fissured areas.
Custer County deputy sheriffs received reports of more than a dozen hunters at least 24 hours overdue as of Sunday afternoon, but dispatcher Joy Roark said most had returned by nightfall from the Lost River Mountains and the wilderness surrounding the Salmon River.
She said no new calls asking about hunters' whereabouts had come in Monday.
"It looks like it's going to quiet down here," said Mrs. Roark, one of several dispatchers who fielded waves of telephone calls concerning hunters who ventured into a maze of trails and roads near the quake's epicenter.
Conservation agent C. W. Welch said authorities planned to search on horseback for any hunters or anglers who remained within about 50 miles of the epicenter on the flanks of Mount Borah.
Welch said officials won't know with certainty for several days whether anyone was hurt or trapped by crashing trees or hurtling rocks during the quake on Friday or aftershocks still rumbling through the region.
University of Utah scientists said nearly constant tremors continued to ripple through the Challis and Mackay areas Monday, but all were of low intensity.
Several weekend aftershocks shook buildings and rattled windows in the towns hit hardest by the quake. One temblor at 7:59 p.m. Saturday measured 4.6 on the Richter scale, but none over 4 has been recorded since then.
U. of U. seismic analysts said quakes were occurring every few minutes Sunday night.
Analyst Linda Sells said the largest of Sunday morning's aftershocks came at 8:55 and measured 3.8. Officials said that remained the day's record late Sunday night. No damage was reported from any of the aftershocks.
In Boise, police learned that someone posing as a U. spokesman called KBBK-FM to announce an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale would shake Boise between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, police said.
Switchboards at the police dispatch desk lit up with calls from anxious listeners. Police called the university and the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colo., and were told the time of earthquakes cannot be predicted.
The university said no one from the seismology center made the call.
Damage to downtown Mackay, hit hard by the quake, has been estimated at about $5 million. State engineers and a team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were assessing the extent of the damage.
Officials said junior and senior high schools in Challis were closed Monday. Students will be moved Tuesday to a new school that had been scheduled to open Monday.
Mackay schools will be closed all week, officials said.
Mackay Superintendent John Meeks said the quake caused structural damage to the high school building, and to its coal-fired furnace.
When classes resume next Monday in Mackay, a nearby church will be used instead of the high school.
But Mackay elementary school children will be back at their usual classrooms next week, because the grade school building suffered only minor damage.
Portable seismograph stations were set up near the quake's epicenter, located near Mount Borah, Idaho's tallest peak at a previous height of 12,662 feet above sea level. There is a 10-mile-long gash on the flanks of the mountain and its sisters in the Pahsimeroi range.
The quake raised the mountain about 15 more feet above the valley floor, but officials said they would not be sure if the valley is lower or the mountain is higher until the area is resurveyed.
Residents of the area were advised to boil their drinking water until tests determine if it was contaminated by the shifting in the earth's crust.
Scientists said the quake has drastically altered the "underground plumbing" of a river valley, creating a lake and tripling a small town's water supply.
Spencer Hall, a Boise State University geologist, said the upheaval reconstructed the valley's natural water system.
"The underground plumbing in that whole region near the epicenter has been changed dramatically."
On Chilly Butte, overlooking the west side of the wilderness valley, a lake has formed from spring water percolating to the top. The butte was dry, barren range before, Hall said.
Oval Caskey, mayor of the quake-stricken town of Mackay, said the volume of water gushing from city wells tripled after the quake.
University of Idaho geologist Peter Isaacson said the earth's crust may be more active in central Idaho than scientists had thought.
"There are some mountain ranges that are literally rising straight up out of the crust, and adjacent basins are dropping," he said.
Another U. of I. Professor, hydrologist Roy Breckenridge, said the epicenter of the quake lies a few miles east of a huge cluster of historic epicenters.
Isaacson said the quake may have been triggered when heavy rainfall this year lubricated the valley's fault zone. He also said the fact that the quake was felt in several Western states and Canada indicates it may have emanated from a fault deep beneath the earth's surface.
A graveside service was held Monday afternoon for Travis Franck, 6, and services are scheduled Monday night and Tuesday morning for Tara Leaton, 7, the first victims of an earthquake in the continental United States since 1971.
[Deseret News; October 31, 1983]


Associated Press
CHALLIS, Idaho--As aftershocks continued to ripple through central Idaho, residents here buried two children killed in Friday's earthquake and continued the chore of cleaning up.
Meanwhile, experts were warning of the potential for continuing aftershocks, some perhaps violent. As a precautionary measure, the level of the Mackay Reservoir was lowered and a 24-hour watch put in effect, although the dam is still structurally sound.
About 200 of Challis' 800 residents gathered in the cemetery on the outskirts of town at a graveside service Monday for 6-year-old Travis Franck, who died along with 7-year-old Tara Leaton when part of a wall collapsed on them while they were walking to school.
Rosary was recited for Tara Monday night and a funeral Mass was held Tuesday morning at the Challis High School Gym, followed by burial in the Challis Cemetery.
Schools in Challis were closed Monday as volunteers and school employees emptied students' lockers at the old high school in preparation for the move to a new school across town on Tuesday.
The move to the new $4 million structure had been planned for later this year but was speeded up because of safety concerns about the old building.
Students were not even allowed in the old high school to get their possessions for fear of further damage from aftershocks, which continued to roll through the area at the rate of one every two to three minutes Monday.
Rose Johnson, chairwoman of the Challis Joint School District's board of trustees, said the old high school building was to be converted into a junior high, but now its fate is uncertain.
"It's not worth one kid's life to keep it open for a day unless we can determine that it is safe," Ms. Johnson said.
Meanwhile, schools in Mackay, about 40 miles from Challis, will be closed all of this week while buildings are inspected for safety, officials said.
Mackay was the town hit hardest by Friday's earthquake, but there were no fatalities there. The quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and was the largest earthquake in the continental United States since 1959. It was felt as far away as North Dakota.
Damage estimates from the quake, earlier placed at $5 million, were revised down to $2.5 million Monday.
Jean Terra, Gov. John Evans' press secretary, said disaster officials estimated damage at $1.5 million in Mackay, $500,000 in Challis and $500,000 to roads.
In Boise, a geologist on Monday repeated warnings that a major aftershock could follow the earthquake.
"There is certainly reason to expect a Magnitude 6 earthquake to occur in that area in the next several weeks, or possibly even months," Boise State University geologist Spencer Wood told a news conference.
BSU geophysicist Jack Pelton said most of Monday's aftershocks measured less than 3 on the Richter scale. Pelton said that while the number of tremors is expected to decrease with time, he expects "significant levels of aftershocks for many years to come."
Pelton said an aftershock of Magnitude 6 "would be sufficient, I'm sure, to bring down any building that is already on the verge of coming down."
Wood said Idaho could be the second most active earthquake belt in the continental United States, next to California's San Andreas fault. He said a Magnitude 6.0 earthquake might be expected in California every seven years; whereas in Idaho an earthquake of that force will likely occur once every 40 years.
Geologists from several states spent the weekend at the base of Mount Borah in central Idaho, near the fault line, taking measurements they hope will enable them to predict with more accuracy when and where other earthquakes will occur.
The Friday quake created a fracture in the earth 12 miles long, created a new lake and stream and lifted a mountain.
[Deseret News; November 1, 1983]


CHALLIS, Idaho (UPI)--While searchers probed central Idaho's earthquake-stricken back country Monday for stranded or injured hunters, sportsmen who emerged from the isolated mountains said they were awed by the tremor's destructive force.
Challis native Rick Frost, 23, said he was hunting below a jagged cliff at Willow Creek Summit when Friday's earthquake ripped through the Lost River Mountains between Challis and Mackay, hurling boulders down steep canyons and shearing trees on heavily timbered slopes.
"That's the closest to death I've ever been in my life," Frost said after returning a second time to hunt for deer several miles from the quake's epicenter along the flanks of Mount Borah.
"My first instinct was to get out of there, so I took off on a dead run. There were boulders coming on both sides of me, so I got behind a tree."
Frost said he and his brother raced off the summit and headed for home, where aftershocks rumbled through the weekend.
Other hunters said they didn't initially realize that what sounded like sonic booms was actually the most violent earthquake in the lower 48 states in 24 years. The rumblings measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and were felt in seven Western states and part of British Columbia.
Howard Worcester of Twin Falls said he was hunting on horseback about 30 miles northwest of Challis--where a toppling storefront killed two children--when he heard rocks and trees break loose.
"We were coming down a canyon and it sounded like somebody was setting off dynamite all around the mountain," Worcester said. "My horse started prancing around like it was on hot coals. I've never felt so small."
Worcester's companion, Everett Messner of Twin Falls, said it was several seconds before he realized he was in danger.
"Sitting on your horse, you can't feel anything," he said. "The horse feels it all. All of a sudden, the trees started shaking, and the horse turned around and started going backwards."
Leonard Parent of Pontiac, Mich., and Berl Stevenson of El Cajon, Calif., who were hunting with the Idahoans, said rocks careened down the Camas Creek Canyon, and trees snapped from the force of the quake for more than 10 minutes.
Steelhead fisherman Chuck Major of Twin Falls said he was nearly 100 miles northwest of Challis when he awoke to the sound of crashing rocks.
Major said he arrived after dark Thursday near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and slept under a ledge on a seldom-used dirt road.
"I knew what it was when I heard the rocks," he said. "They were going over me about 10 feet away. There were some half the size of a pickup truck up and down the road."
Except for Frost, all the sportsmen resumed their expeditions.
[Deseret News; November 1, 1983]


CHALLIS, Idaho (AP)--The skies were gray and a crisp autumn wind blew as about 200 people gathered in the Challis town cemetery to remember a quiet, well-behaved boy who became an indelible part of the largest earthquake to hit the continental United States since 1959.
Six-year-old Travis Franck was on his way to school Friday with his regular companion--7-year-old Tara Leaton--when the earthquake struck and a wall collapsed on the children.
They became the first earthquake fatalities in the lower 48 states since 1975.
On Monday, Travis' friends, neighbors and teachers paid their last respects at a graveside service.
A funeral Mass for Tara was conducted Tuesday in the Challis High School Gym, followed by burial in the Challis Cemetery.
Robert Lisonbee, an LDS bishop and principal of Challis Elementary School, said Travis was well behaved, a good student and had a love for people and nature.
"His favorite hobby was fishing. He could sit and talk to his father for hours about it. He didn't care how big they were or even whether he caught any. He just liked to fish."
The boy's love of books and learning also was remembered.
Lisonbee said that when the school librarian read to the children, he remembered Travis listening intently to every word.
"He was usually very sober, but during the reading last week of 'The Ghost With the Halloween Hiccups,' Travis was one of the few students who really caught the humor in it."
"Travis was a boy who was filled with kindness, patience and love," said his first-grade teacher, Patty Millick, in a tribute read by Lisonbee at the service.
"Travis was always there to remind me of the things I had forgotten. It may have been the pledge of allegiance or a story I said I would read," Ms. Millick said. "But thanks to Travis it always got done."
[Deseret News; November 1, 1983]


By Glen Warchol
A month ago, Utahns would have been as likely to insure their homes against meteorites as earthquakes.
But after temblors rattled furniture and nerves in the Salt Lake Valley on Oct. 8, 135 Utah homeowners rushed out to buy catastrophic disaster insurance. And by Tuesday--four days after an earthquake of 6.9 on the Richter scale ripped through central Idaho, a 300-mile stone's throw away--another 140 new applications for calamity coverage had crossed Marie Fratto's desk.
"Friday, the phone never stopped," said Mrs. Fratto, flood and earthquake insurance representative for Trustco Inc. "And the mail Monday morning was so heavy that you knew exactly where it came from. It's definitely a result of what happened in Idaho."
Trustco apparently offers the only separate earthquake home insurance coverage in the state. And the Homeowner's Catastrophic Insurance, underwritten by Lloyd's of London, seems tailored to meet the fears of Utah homeowners. It covers practically all natural disasters--earthquakes, floods, mudslides and avalanches--all of which have stomped, slopped and rumbled through the state this year.
"I suppose if we ever had a volcano erupt in Utah, Lloyd's of London would cover that, too," Ms. Fratto said.
The high risk nature of catastrophic insurance makes it expensive, however. It about doubles the normal cost of insurance on a home. The Lloyd's of London insurance is $82.80 for $35,000 of coverage--regardless of whether the home is brick or frame (or straw)--and can be increased in $5,000 increments at $10.40 per increment to $530 a year, which provides $250,000 of protection. The insurance is on the basic living structure only, said Mrs. Fratto, with minimal coverage of garages and patios. As for the swimming pool and tennis courts--you're on your own.
The only other way homeowners can get earthquake protection is to add earthquake "riders" to their existing homeowner policies. The riders, or endorsements, cost about $7.75 per $1,000 coverage for brick to $1.75 per $1,000 for frame, depending on your insurance company, Mrs. Fratto said. It works out to being considerably more expensive than the catastrophic coverage and doesn't protect against the full range of nature's rages as does the Lloyd's of London policy.
Barring communication and transportation breakdowns in event of an earthquake, Mrs. Fratto said, claims on the policy will be handled in six weeks or less. Payment on claims of less than $10,000, which don't require Lloyd's of London approval, take less time.
Some 2,600 policies worth $200 million have been written in Utah in the eight years the catastrophic insurance has been offered, Mrs. Fratto said. Seven earthquake claims for minor damage are being handled after the Oct. 8 quake.
But in Idaho--where estimates of the earthquake damage in the mountain towns of Challis and Mackay are running in excess of $5 million--no natural catastrophe insurance is available at this time.
Although Trustco hopes to offer the Lloyd's of London insurance in Idaho sometime in the future, currently the only protection available is the more expensive and limited earthquake rider.
Moreover, until the seismology of Idaho settles down after last week's quake, Idahoans can forget getting any earthquake protection whatsoever.
"Our company (and all other Idaho insurance companies) put a two-week moratorium on earthquake insurance--until the aftershocks subside," said Dave Peterson of Pacific Insurance Co. in Boise. "Writing earthquake insurance now would be like insuring half the house while the other half is burning."
Although Peterson said independent agents have been calling with questions about earthquake policies, he doubts in the long run that many Idaho homeowners will buy the riders to their policies.
"It's very expensive insurance," he said. Earthquake damage is rare enough that most people just don't feel it's worth it."
Peterson estimates that before the earthquake, almost no Idaho homeowners had any kind of earthquake insurance. "A small percent of a percent, at most, had that kind of coverage."
[Deseret News; November 1, 1983]


Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho--In the aftermath of Friday's violent central Idaho earthquake, silver miners continued Wednesday trying to clear gushing water from an underground shaft in Custer County, and a high school gymnasium in Lima, Mont., damaged by the quake, was declared unsafe.
In Boise, government workers returned to their jobs at City Hall after crews completed emergency repairs to a support beam thrown off-center by the quake.
Gov. John Evans has asked the federal Small Business Administration to declare Custer County a disaster area to make residents and merchants eligible for low-interest loans.
The governor said preliminary inspection shows that more than 250 homes and businesses were damaged in the massive earthquake that registered 6.9 on the Richter scale and killed two Challis children as they walked to school.
He said 39 homes and 11 businesses in Challis and nearby Mackay sustained major damage, while 200 homes and numerous businesses received moderate to minor damage. Damage is estimated at $2.5 million.
But residents said the property damage means nothing compared with the deaths of two children killed when a wall in Challis collapsed on them. Seven-year old Tara Leaton was buried here Tuesday, following a funeral Mass attended by about 150 people.
Speaking at the Mass, the Rev. John O'Sullivan said her death and that of 6-year-old Travis Franck were a reminder of the frailty of human existence.
While conceding that words were not sufficient to console a family that had lost a child, O'Sullivan said Tara had returned to "a place where there is no suffering."
She was buried in the Challis Cemetery, where funeral and graveside services were held for the Franck boy Monday.
At the Clayton Silver Mine about 25 miles from the quake's epicenter, employees have been working round the clock with rented pumps trying to stop the flooding in the 1,100-foot-deep shaft. Mine officials said more than 100 feet of water has poured into the mine since the quake.
The flooding has shut down mining and milling.
None of the mine's 38 employees were inside the mine at the time of the quake, which also sent rocks and landslides to within a few feet of the mill and other buildings.
"Everyone is still a little scared and shaky, and they're getting tired," said mine superintendent Roland Rovetto.
An underground spring had been pumping about 500 gallons per minute into the mine shaft before the earthquake, but officials said the flow increased to 1,000 gallons per minute after the quake. It had slowed somewhat Tuesday afternoon.
A high school gymnasium in Lima, Mont., has been roped off and declared unsafe after inspection showed quarter-inch cracks in each corner of the building and in supporting pillars.
School superintendent Bob Smith said there are also cracks in the roof and plaster of the concrete-block gym which was added to the high school in 1957. He said a new gym might have to be constructed if it can't be repaired.
In Boise, about 50 municipal workers got a half day off Tuesday because a beam in the south wing of the Boise City Hall shifted after the earthquake.
Workers shored up the beam Tuesday night and city employees were back at their jobs Wednesday.
Tim Hogland, director of the city building department, said City Hall has flexible joints designed to expand and contract with temperature changes, tremors or other effects.
He said the expansion occurred as it was supposed to, but for some reason the joint did not return to its normal position.
Evacuation of employees was a precautionary measure, but with the beam out of place another earthquake or severe aftershock could cause a second story floor to collapse.
Hogland said inspections revealed that Boise buildings seemed to withstand the earthquake well, with only some glass breakage, a cracked brick chimney and a collapsed retaining wall.
Meanwhile, geologists continued to monitor aftershocks from the quake, which registered 6.9 on the Richter scale, making it the strongest earthquake in the contiguous states since 1959.
And local residents marveled over some of the geologic changes brought by the earthquake.
A spokeswoman at the University of Utah Seismology Center said nearly 110 aftershocks were measured over a 24-hour period from Monday to Tuesday. About three had a magnitude as high as 3.0, she said.
[Deseret News; November 2, 1983]


As Custer County, Idaho residents continued to clean up from the aftermath of last Friday's killer earthquake, one woman ended up with a decorated memento. Georgia Smith returned to her Challis home from work last Friday to find a boulder almost the size of a house in her front yard. The boulder had fallen down a hill behind her home during the quake, just missing the house itself. The boulder is still in the front yard. But now, in honor of the Halloween holiday earlier this week, it sports a grinning Jack-O' Lantern face!
[Deseret News; November 2, 1983]



By Mike Carter
CHALLIS, Idaho--A series of earthquakes, the largest registering 6.9 on the Richter scale, rumbled out of this remote central Idaho community early Friday, killing two school children and injuring several others as they shook an eight-state area from the Rocky Mountains to the West Coast.
Damage was extensive throughout the Challis area, where both deaths occurred, as well as in nearby Mackay. Both were equal distance from the quakes' epicenters, about 110 miles northwest of Pocatello, along the Challis-Stanley Fault. The epicenter of the initial tremor was pinpointed to be within miles of Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest, located about 30 miles southeast of Challis.
Tentacle-like vibrations shot out as far north as Canada, and reached into Utah, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota. In Utah, tremors were felt as far south as Salt Lake County, although no damage resulted.
The two children who lost their lives were the first earthquake-caused fatalities within the United States since 1971 when more than 50 died in a quake that struck California's San Fernando Valley. The quake was also the strongest in the adjacent 48 states since the Aug. 17, 1959, Hebgen Lake, Montana, quake that measured 7.1 and killed 28.
Officials identified one of the dead children as Tara Leaton, 7, daughter of Frank and Sally Leaton, Challis. She and her companion, 6-year-old Travis Franck, were crushed to death under tons of concrete when a wall collapsed on them while walking to school.
In nearby Mackay, a quiet town of 550 residents nestled in a valley in the Lost River Mountains, a bank employee was seriously injured when a building collapsed on her as she exited her car to go to work. Mackay firefighter Randy Ivie identified the woman as Eleanor Williams (no age available). She suffered head injuries and broken legs, and was listed in serious condition at the Lost River Hospital in Arco. The woman's car, parked in an alley next to the bank, was flattened.
Mackay's Main Street was devastated by the quake, with almost every building sustaining serious damage--in some cases irreparable. The brick facades of several shops and offices (including City Hall) collapsed into the street after the initial quake. Police and fire officials cordoned off Main Street, fearing that the numerous and unpredictable aftershocks would bring the teetering buildings down and cause further injuries. The University of Utah seismic activity monitor measured more than 65 aftershocks late Friday. The largest recorded was 5.5 on the Richter scale.
Shattered glass, brick and goods thrown from the shops and stores lining the two block-long street littered the road. "The residential part of town wasn't hurt too bad," Mr. Ivie said. "It was the business section that took the brunt of the quake." Several residents reported that brick chimneys on their homes--as well as goods inside the residences--were damaged.
"Anything that had to do with brick just crumbled," he said, gesturing to the rubble-strewn Main Street.
Custer County Assessor Bob Savage said no damage estimate had been compiled. "The damages are just an inconvenience," he said. "The tragedy are these two kids killed. They'll never be replaced."
Idaho Gov. John Evans declared a state of emergency in Custer County Friday, clearing the way for state and federal emergency aid.
The first impulse--6.9 on the Richter--proved to be the worst, hitting at 8:06 a.m. Within hours, 15 aftershocks occurred, the largest two wielding the potentially destructive forces of 4.4 (at 9:15 a.m.) and 5.5 (at 1:52 p.m.).
The Richter scale is a measurement used to judge severity of the earth's movements and is calibrated in permutations of 10. Thus, an earthquake of 7 has 10 times the force of one registering 6 on the scale.
In Challis, 50 miles north of Mackay, a portion of the roof of the area high school collapsed, but there were no injuries. Several other buildings sustained heavy damage.
Residents said they could watch massive rockslides tumble down the peaks west of town. A pall of dust was visible for several hours after the first shock, and was bolstered by slides caused by the subsequent aftershocks. The slide trails were clearly visible from the center of town.
Mona James of Challis said a 15-foot boulder rolled through her home as she was sipping coffee Friday morning. Another Challis resident, Alan Allen, said a huge boulder bounced down a hillside and missed his trailer home by feet.
A crack in the spillway of the earthen dam restricting the Mackay Irrigation Reservoir, located about five miles northwest of town, at first was believed to have been caused by the earthquake. A sheriff's office spokesman, however, said the crack was an old one and that the dam appeared to be structurally sound. State officials were monitoring the dam on an hourly basis, said Custer County Sheriff's Deputy Darby Hinz.
Numerous other dams in the area were checked by officials from the Bureau of Reclamation but none was apparently damaged, said BOR Regional Director L. W. "Bill" Lloyd. He said the 30 dams within a 250 mile radius of the quake's epicenter will be closed for the next few days for inspection.
Roads and schools did not fare as well. A portion of a Custer County road dropped six feet and was closed by state police. Both major thoroughfares-- U.S. 93 and Idaho 73--were opened for limited traffic Friday afternoon.
Schools in Mackay, Challis and Rupert, Idaho, were closed Friday.
The quake caused other problems upstream from the town. Mackay Civil Defense Director Wayne Olsen said the quake apparently shifted an entire mountainside north of Mackay in an area called Whiskey Springs, causing numerous artesian wells to drain to the other side of the valley. "One whole side of the valley was made higher," he said.
Several other springs "just appeared," according to residents. Ken Lartner, a Tucson, Ariz., resident visiting land that he owns north of Mackay, said a small artesian well on his property "just started gushing" after the earthquake. In addition, the quake caused minor cracks and shifts in U.S. 93, which runs between Challis and Mackay, forcing closure of the road for a short period and causing officials to limit traffic between the two towns to passenger vehicles using one lane.
Deputy Hinz said searchers were combing the mountains looking for numerous deer and elk hunters reported to be in the area. Several smaller mountain canyons were closed by rockslides, but the deputy said that officials had no reports of lost or missing people. "But, it's an awful big area," he commented. Fixed wing planes and helicopters were sent into the surrounding hills to make sure the hunters were alright.
The deputy, who said he was "literally shaken out of bed" at his home in Challis, said he and another deputy found a 30-foot-by-10-foot crevasse north of Mackay while searching for stranded hunters 30 miles north of the town.
He and other law enforcement officers also expressed concern about the number of sightseers coming into the area. "If we have to evacuate, we're going to end up having to move out 10 times as many people as we would normally have to deal with," he said.
Idaho Fish and Game Officer Gary Hompland said his office had not received any reports of people not being able to make it out of the mountains.
Several other nearby cities and towns were severely shaken by the tremor, but no serious damage was reported. In Butte, Mont., workers were evacuated from the Federal Building when plaster cracked then a light fixture broke loose and crashed to the floor. Boise State University students were evacuated from tall buildings on campus while the structures were checked for damage.
In addition, the tremors triggered shutoff mechanisms at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, a 15-reactor plant near Idaho Falls. Sensitive monitors, triggered by seismographic activity, automatically shut the reactors down. INEL Fire Chief R. V. Savage drove to Mackay to see if his crews could be of assistance. "Things are secure at the nuclear facility," he said.
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 29, 1983]


By Con Psarras
The seismic convulsion that rocked the Intermountain region Friday morning was unleashed by slippage along an Idaho fault line that's geologically similar to Utah's more volatile Wasatch Fault, according to scientists.
Geologists say, however, that there is little scientific basis on which to assume that slippage along an unconnected fault line in Idaho could translate into increased potential for seismic activity in Utah.
"Geologically, I'd have to say it was on a similar fault, but I wouldn't say the occurrence would have an affect this far away," said Dr. James Pechmann, a University of Utah geologist.
Awesome Energy
But the fact that seismic waves from the Idaho shock were felt in varying degrees in Salt Lake County is a measure of the awesome energy released by a quake of that magnitude--measuring about 6.9 on the Richter scale.
The Richter scale provides a gauge for estimating the energy released by an earthquake as measured by ground movement. The scale progresses in geometric increments of ten. In other words, an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the scale would be 10 times more powerful than an earthquake measuring 4.2, and 100 times more powerful than one measuring 3.2.
By comparison, then, the Idaho earthquake unleashed several hundred times more energy than did the 4.2 earthquake centered west of Salt Lake City that awoke Utahns on the morning of Oct. 8.
Should a quake the size of the Idaho tremor occur along the Wasatch Fault, the potential for widespread damage, deaths and injuries would be "massive," said Dr. William Nash, chairman of the University of Utah Geology and Geophysics Department.
Scientists said the Oct. 8 earthquake in Salt Lake City was not caused by fault slippage and cannot be related to a pattern of concentrated seismic activity that includes the Idaho upheaval.
However, Dr. Nash said the Idaho quake will trigger a series of seismic movement and aftershocks that could last for several weeks.
He said scientists at the University of Utah seismograph station will monitor the probable aftershock region, including an area extending south into parts of Northern Utah, for signs of additional activity. More than a dozen U. of U. geologists were sent to Idaho Friday to study effects of the quake and the shocks likely to follow in its wake.
Geologic Pressure
Scientists on Friday were not certain which fault line in the Lost River Mountain range gave way to geologic pressure and slipped at about 8:04 a.m., sending powerful seismic waves across the northern Rocky Mountains and into seven states and parts of Canada.
The area where the quake was centered is characterized by several small mountain ranges separated by narrow valleys. On a relief map, the mountain ranges look like the fingers of a small hand placed over the center of Idaho.
That characteristic makes the fault line similar to the Wasatch Fault, which also likes along the plane of a mountain range whose slopes empty on to a large, flat valley floor.
Dr. Nash said earthquake specialists have not done extensive mapping in the area because it is "generally rather remote. Our concentration has been along the urban corridor of the Wasatch fault."
Best Positioned
In that urban corridor, shockwaves from the Idaho quake were felt more vividly in some areas than others, and people on the top floors of tall buildings were probably best positioned to notice the tremors.
Dr. Pechmann said that tall buildings are most likely to sway under pressure from shock waves that originate a long distance away. Like the waves that emanate from a pebble tossed in a calm pond, the concentric waves closest to the center of an earthquake are close together, and move from the center with greater frequency.
As the waves grow larger and proceed away from the center, the frequency diminishes. Tall buildings, Dr. Pechmann said, are more likely to be swayed by a "long-period motion" characterized by strong, pulsating waves proceeding from a shock many miles away.
Alluvial Material
Also, seismic waves from the Idaho quake were more noticeable to people in the central and west portions of the Salt Lake Valley where the ground is comprised of alluvial material--deposits of earth unevenly spread across what was once the floor of a large, prehistoric lake.
That ground is more susceptible to motion from seismic waves than is bedrock, which is what lies below most of the homes on the eastern side of Salt Lake County and along the bench areas of the Wasatch Front, Dr. Pechmann explained.
The alluvium plains tend to have slower seismic velocities than do areas of bedrock. The slower the waves travel through the plain, the greater their amplitude and their ability to cause damage, Dr. Pechmann explained.
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 29, 1983]


Following the initial shock of the earthquake that shook Idaho Friday, several hundred employees at the Salt Lake City-County Building and the Metropolitan Hall of Justice were evacuated for about an hour and a half as a precaution against aftershocks. County commissioners gave the evacuation order after consulting with Al Britton, director of Salt Lake County emergency services.
Building employees reported hearing rumbling noises and said chandeliers, hanging plants, curtains, coat hangers and other objects were rocked back and forth by the earthquake. No major damage was reported to either building.
On the 10th floor of the hall of justice, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department secretaries Marcia Hedenstrom and Geri Fernley said they left the building on their own when they felt it swaying. "You could feel the whole building move," Mrs. Fernley said. Minutes later the entire building was evacuated.
However, city officials were concerned the city and county building evacuation wasn't handled well. Some employees exited through doors that would probably be destroyed if the 89-year old building's tower had collapsed, city general services manager Phil Erickson said. City officials Friday were evaluating emergency evacuation plans for the sandstone building and are expected to discuss the situation and possible adjustments in the plan with county officials early next week.
Mr. Erickson said some new minor cracks were found in the walls and tower of the city-county building, but none were considered serious. Across the street at the MHJ, some hairline cracks and chips of exterior concrete panels were found, but again the damage wasn't serious. County officials said about 300 people were evacuated from the hall of justice and about 200 to 300 from the county's 2100 South complex.
Friday's earthquake and one two weeks ago came at a time when city and county officials are deciding whether to preserve or demolish the deteriorating city county building. The possibility of more earthquakes soon could hasten the decision between a new lease on life for the building or destruction. Meanwhile, previous cracks and damages to the building aren't getting any better, Mr. Erickson said.
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 29, 1983]


By Wallace D. Hoffman
The "ripple effect" of the major earthquake that struck central Idaho Friday morning arrived in Salt Lake City, or more exactly The Tribune Building at 143 S. Main, at 8:08 a.m.
I am certain of the time because I had just brought an article up on the screen of a video display terminal in the 10th floor office of The Tribune's editorial board. The time was precisely noted on the screen: "08:08."
When the quake hit, my first reaction was that I was experiencing vertigo. The room seemed to take on the swaying sensation a person sometimes feels when he stands suddenly after sitting in the same position for a long time. I thought I was becoming ill.
Blinds Swaying
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the venetian blinds swaying.
About that time someone in the hall hollered, "It's an earthquake." I was absolutely certain he was right.
The tremor didn't hit the building sharply. Instead, it triggered a definite swaying sensation, coupled with the feeling that the floor was rhythmically pitching, like a ship's deck in a rolling sea.
Frayed Nerves
The episode continued for at least a minute before the 10-story building "settled back" on its foundations. There were no books tipped from our office's several shelves, no light fixtures were shattered--there was no apparent damage, except for the slight fraying of the nerves of the half dozen or so people on the floor at the time.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the whole episode was that people in The Tribune's newsroom on the second floor hadn't felt the tremor. At about 8:20 a.m. I went to the newsroom and I asked people about their reaction to the quake. I initially received blank "What quake?" stares, until the phone calls started coming in, probably from people like myself who had been on the higher floors of buildings, wanting to know, "Has there been an earthquake?"
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 29, 1983]


By Tom Harris
Knight-Ridder Newspapers
MACKAY, Idaho--The earth heaved and buckled here Friday morning, and nature has run amok.
Massive mountains were lifted up.
A valley floor fell 2 feet at the surface and narrowing to a sliver that cut 5 miles deep.
Small rivers rose in geysers from the sides of mountains.
Lakes formed in dry pastures in one area, and old marshes and sluices disappeared into the porous, rock soil in another.
"The forces unleased here were so great," said Spencer Wood, a geophysicist at Boise State University, "that if it had happened in a place like San Jose or Los Angeles, there would have been scores of people dead."
As it was, the quake that measured 6.9 on the Richter scale took the lives of two children in sparsely populated central Idaho.
2 Big Aftershocks
But the land continued to churn Saturday. Wave upon wave of aftershocks shook the hills and plains, rumbling through at the rate of one every three minutes. Two of the 150 aftershocks were sizable shakes in their own right, measuring 5.5.
Sinkholes, some 10 feet across, pocked the valley floor, caused by liquefaction--the violent shaking of loosely compacted soil until it collapses into a quicksand-like goo.
"Borah Peak [Idaho's tallest mountain at 12,662 feet] could be from one-tenth of a foot to 10 feet higher today," Wood said. "The valley appears to have dropped about 5 feet."
The region has become a busy and cluttered outdoor classroom for scores of geologists and hundreds of onlookers. All were scouring the fissure in the Earth's surface that now snakes along the base of the Lost River Range.
"This is a fantastic experience, to witness geologic history," said Wood. "We have seen all the classic signs of a really big earthquake; the sand boils, liquefaction of the soil, and scarp formation."
Corner of Third and Main
It was 8:08 a.m. MDT Friday as 6-year-old Travis Franck and 7-year-old Tara Leaton, Franck's friend from across the street, were just rounding the corner of North Third and Main streets in Challis, 78 miles to the north.
There, beside LP's, a store for second-hand goods, children regularly gather to walk the half-mile to school.
Then the rumbling quake came rolling up through the earth.
The small, wood-framed home Travis had left just minutes before began to sway.
"I ran out of the house and yelled for Travis to tell him to come back," his mother, Janet Fisher, said through her tears. "But it was too late. They had turned the corner."
Breaking down, Fisher could not continue the story.
"It was pretty shocking," said her mother, Cecil. "Janet went after them in the car. Rocks were shooting down off the mountain everywhere. She got there just after the wall fell on them."
Crushed to Death
As LP's swayed and shook, huge rock slabs, held there only by their own weight and a skimpy layer of mortar, broke loose from the building's facade and crushed the two children to death.
"It was a tragic loss for a town so small," said Bob Lisonbee, principal of the nearby Challis High School. "Our daughter baby-sat Tara many times. She was a dear and vibrant girl."
The mining town of 1,500 was quiet Saturday morning. The streets that were filled with frantic and frightened people 24 hours earlier were empty. The only buildings that suffered serious damage were the store and the high school.
Mackay, however, was harder hit.
The city hall, a drug store, grocery store, bar and two other buildings suffered extensive damage, though none collapsed. Blocks from the walls tumbled onto the sidewalks.
"It was a miracle no one was killed," said Cheryl Williams, manager of the Mackay Drug Store, which was still in shambles Saturday morning. "Thank God the school is at the other end of town or we would have had children crushed to death here, too."
Statewide, Gov. John Evans estimated damages at between $4 million and $5 million.
Where Faults Meet
Geologists say the quake was centered just north of Mackay, close to the ranch of Gordon Fulton in Big Lost River Valley. The epicenter was at the junction of two or three known fault systems, including the Lost River fault and Double Springs fault.
Ironically, state geologists had discussed the seismic dangers of the region with experts from the U.S. Geological Survey as recently as last week. Just as ironic was a visit two weeks ago in Challis by state civil defense officials who warned citizens there they were overdue for a sizable earthquake.
"They told us we should be ready for something like this, but what can you do? There was no time," said Cecil Fisher.
Seismic activity is not new to the area. The Rockies of Idaho and Montana have been frequently shaken by quakes. In 1959, a tremor of magnitude 7.1 hit Hebgen Lake, Mont., about 130 miles northeast of Challis.
For the past three years, geologists have been mapping a faintly visible surface fault across the foot of Borah Peak. Now, the fault is an ugly, twisting scar in the Earth's skin stretching almost the length of the mountain range.
Pumped Water Up Butte
The immense pressure created by the sudden drop of the valley floor forced water up the inside of bluffs five to six miles away.
"The water was shooting out of the sides of that butte over there 15 to 20 feet in the air and it was a river of water," said Fulton, whose family has ranched the rich valley floor for more than 100 years.
The flows died down by nightfall Friday, but not before flooding nearby fields and turning hundreds of acres of rich pasture into a lake.
National Forest officials and sheriff's deputies still worry about the fate of hundreds of deer and elk hunters who went out into the woods and steep canyons before the temblor hit.
Jack and Eleanor Blair of Mackay and Jim and Rita Hogg of Hailey, near Sun Valley, were hunting in a deep mountain canyon just east of the epicenter.
Mountain Falls Into Canyon
"We heard the tremendous rumbling and roar just as we started making breakfast," said Blair. "Then the whole side of the mountain where we had hunted the day before gave way and tumbled into the canyon. Dust and rocks came shooting out of that place for more than an hour.
"My God, it is just now beginning to sink in how lucky we were," said Eleanor Blair. "We were walking across the face of that shale shelf yesterday and were camping right in the canyon below it. We certainly would have been buried alive."
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 30, 1983]


By Jerry Belcher and Richard E. Meyer
Los Angeles Times Writers
CHALLIS, Idaho--Lawana Knox may be unique in recorded history. She saw it happen.
"There came a horrible roaring," she said Saturday, describing the earth as it wrenched open before her eyes into a crack 200 feet wide with terraced sides, like a staircase designed by an idiot.
Her account of the Challis earthquake will be invaluable to scientists, said Spencer Wood, research professor of geology at Boise State University.
"She is only the first or second human being in modern history to observe a fault like this actually forming," he said.
Fell to Ground
Knox, the 44-year-old wife of a sawmill operator on the Salmon River in remote central Idaho, fell to the ground--"there was no way you could have stood up"--and watched in disbelief as the earth split apart 150 to 200 yards in front of her. The massive crack snaked for 15 miles along the base of the Lost River Mountains.
The earthquake, at 8:06 a.m. MDT Friday, was variously measured at 7.2 and 6.9 on the Richter scale. It killed two children in this small mining town, injured three other persons and caused damage estimated between $2.5 million and $5 million. It also gave scientists a rare opportunity to gaze into the crust of the earth.
'Funny Roar'
Knox and her husband, Bill, were elk hunting on a mountainside about 28 miles from their home, near the epicenter, when the earthquake struck.
"At first, I heard a funny roar," she recalled, in a telephone interview. "I thought it was the wind blowing up the canyon, like it does, you know, except it was real still. I saw the sagebrush and the grass wiggling and starting to shake, and I thought, 'Earthquake.' I was more interested in the elk. We've had tremors before.
"The next thing I knew, it had thrown the gun, a .245 Winchester, out of my hands, and I couldn't get it. It felt like somebody was shaking me by the shoulders, and I had the sensation that it would throw me on my face. I was disoriented. I sat down. The power poles were banging back and forth, lines whipping--and the poles moving, too. There was nowhere for me to go, so I just sat there and waited.
"Then there came this horrible roaring. I looked and the earth just started cracking. Just everywhere I looked, the earth started to open up, just dropping like someone had taken scissors and started cutting. I could see dust a flying and a big crack going right along the mountains. I thought it would keep going and I'd just sink. It went along for miles. I could see it going.
"You'd be looking, and the next thing you knew there'd be a 4-to-6-foot width difference.
"We'd watched nine head of deer before it hit, and they ran when it started. There were some elk, and they were all bunched up. I'd just shot at them, and they ran."
Her husband, also 44, was hunting at the top of a hill and did not see the fault line open up below. But the motion made him feel faint, and he kneeled so he would not fall.
"I had the sensation that the world was rocking," he said. "I stayed there and hung on until it quieted down. And then I could hear the rumble. My first thought was that it was a nuclear blast.
"About 15 minutes later I got back to my wife. The ground dropped in front of her.
"The ground had slipped and left a four-foot bank. As we went down the canyon, it widened to about a 6- or 7-foot bank, like one side was raised or the other side fell. It went on for several miles, diagonally across the mountains and through the canyons and over little hills. It went toward Borah Peak."
Rocks Rolling
Mount Borah is the highest peak in Idaho.
"Right away there was nothing more," he said, "but about a half hour or 45 minutes later we thought we felt a couple of tremors. We heard lots of rocks rolling, and we could see into the high canyons where there were awful dust storms, like after rocks had fallen."
Neither Knox nor his wife was injured.
Dr. Wood brought 30 of his students from Boise to camp on the edge of the gaping fault and study its size, shape and formation. He told reporters that at no other time in history has there been an eyewitness to such an event whose account could be recorded and analyzed by the geologists who would try to determine what had happened--and what will happen next.
"The breakage, meaning the fault, is 15 miles long, and there's a 10-foot offset," he said. "It's magnificent: the largest to form in the United States since the 1950s."
Where Wood stood, the crack was 100 feet wide, but he said that it extended to 200 feet for much of its distance along the mountain range. The high side of the crack rose in three or four gradations, like small terraces.
As Wood and his students prepared of a second night of uneasy encampment near the fault, aftershocks trembled through the valley. The University of Utah counted about 100 of them. Ed Williams of the Ricks College seismographic station in Rexburg, said that six to eight of them had a magnitude of 2.5 or greater, a force humans can feel.
He said that at least four had a Richter scale count of 4.0 or greater.
The aftershocks frightened residents of Challis and nearby Mackay, where residents mourned for the two dead children, Tara Leaton, 7, and Travis Franck, 6, who were crushed when a concrete and stone wall from a secondhand store fell on them as they walked to school. At the same time, many of the residents also started the long task of repairs.
Gov. John Evans said the damage could be as high as $5 million. Maj. Gen. James S. Brook, commander of the Idaho National Guard, said the total in Custer County, which includes Challis and Mackay, probably came to $2.5 million. The population of Challis has increased recently from 758 to about twice that because of new mining activity.
Mackay has a population of about 550.
Children Killed
Typical of the mourners was Chris Gee, 24, who knew Tara Leaton well.
"Tara was pretty and smart," Gee said, tears welling in her eyes. "When I heard about her,--I have a 19-month-old-baby--I said to myself, 'Thank God it wasn't him.' She was just exceptionally sweet, an adorable child. We lost two kids here. Because we're such a small town, that would be like losing hundreds of people in Los Angeles."
"This is a big disaster for us."
Officials said that the disaster could have been worse.
They found cracks in support structures at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory at Arco, 77 miles southeast of here.
Pete Dirkmaat, spokesman for the Department of Energy nuclear research and testing facility, said that some of the cracks were discovered in a concrete wall at a building containing a machine shop and maintenance facilities. He said other cracks were found in a bullet proof window at a guard house.
But Dirkmaat said that there was no damage to any nuclear reactors.
Two were operating at the time of the earthquake, he said. A light-water reactor shut down automatically, Dirkmaat reported, and workers manually closed down a breeder reactor.
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 30, 1983]


BOISE (AP)--A series of earthquakes that have broken out around the world since Idaho's killer quake aren't related, a U.S. Geological Survey official says.
"They don't represent any sudden change in the amount of energy being released from the earth's crust," said James Devine, assistant director for engineering geology.
"This is common," he said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Reston, Va.
Two Custer County children were killed Friday when an earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Idaho.
Since then, scientists have recorded earthquakes in Afghanistan, Maine, Turkey, Japan, and Indonesia, Devine said.
The Turkey quake killed 1,126 people.
He said that there are slack times and busy times for earthquake activity. "The energy is not released under a uniform rate."
"We locate 10,000 or so a year. There are always some going on. We locate some everyday," Devine said.
"On occasion you have several of these that occur in populated areas and when they hurt people and break things it gets in the papers."
He said that when earthquakes occur in the ocean or other unpopulated areas, scientists tell each other about them, but there is no public attention.
"We have not seen any significant increase in the overall amount of energy being released by earthquakes worldwide," he added.
In the last 10 years the amount of energy released by earthquakes has been somewhat less than the average 10-year figure, Devine said.
He said that in the decade 1900-1910, there was a significant increase in the amount of overall energy being released by earthquakes, and a significant number of large-scale earthquakes.
"We don't have a reason, other than to say the earth doesn't release energy in a uniform pattern," he said.
He said scientists calculate the amount of earthquake energy released by relating it to the magnitude of earthquakes recorded.
[Salt Lake Tribune; November 2, 1983]


By Susan Gallagher
Associated Press Writer
CHALLIS, Idaho--One year after an earthquake shook towns and ranches along central Idaho's Lost River Range like a dusty rug, killing two children, residents are still seeking reconciliation with violent forces that left their lives as fissured as the land.
Aftershocks continue to rout people from their homes and businesses, reminding them the ground isn't solid, and "quake drills" are regular events at area schools.
"You don't know if the earth's going to open up and swallow you. You don't know if a mountain's going to fall on top of you," Scot Tappan, a Challis grocer, said recently. His store is down the street from a building where masonry toppled on the two young victims as they walked to school.
"You learn to live one day at a time after an experience like this," Tappan said. An earthquake teaches you just what Mother Nature can do."
The Oct. 28, 1983, earthquake hit 7.3 on the Richter scale, the strongest in the contiguous 48 states since 1959.
The Borah Peak Earthquake, named for Idaho's highest mountain, is blamed for disrupting the clockwork of Old Faithful geyser in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. It has also raised concern over the safety of nuclear reactors at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, 50 miles from the quake's epicenter.
Students still attend classes in temporary quarters like a U.S. Forest Service bunkhouse while awaiting completion of new, safer schools.
Some children refuse to dim lights at night.
"We can repair our buildings, but the emotional effects will remain with us for a long time," said Cecil Fisher, grandmother of one of the dead children.
The building where the children died at one end of Main Street in Challis, population 1,200, is newly clad in aluminum siding and a "for rent" sign hangs in the window.
In neighboring Mackay, with 570 residents, workmen are completing a new city hall to replace a quake-shaken municipal building. The foundation for a new school was poured recently.
Eleanor Williams, a Mackay resident for more than 25 years, is back at her job at the bank after extended treatment for injuries and a related infection suffered when bricks fell on her. She never thought of moving away from the area.
"I don't know where you'd go," Williams said. "They all have their problems. If it's not earthquakes, it might be floods or tornadoes."
The federal government has provided more than $5 million, mostly grants for new schools and loans for other construction, but feelings about the help are mixed.
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a joke," said Challis Mayor Charlie Burns, whose city applied for $12,000 in aid and got $8,600. A lot of that was offset by the cost of federally mandated paperwork, he said.
"I told them in Boise, 'If anything else happens up here, just stay away,'" said Burns. "We can take care of ourselves a lot faster and with a lot less hassle."
Morgan Haroldsen and his wife, Sarabeth, are using a federal loan to build a house on their ranch at Chilly, 17 miles north of Mackay and near the quake epicenter. The tremor knocked the south end of their old house off its foundation.
"We've got fields that were totally level before and now have mounds and depressions," Haroldsen said. "We've got places the stock won't go on."
Other ranchers at Chilly have had to repair flumes, replace stock-watering pipes and restring barbed wire tugged by the ground's spasms.
Rancher Will Ingram is developing a hydropower project at the site of his spring--it dried up right after the quake, then returned at five times its original volume.
In homes, new cabinet latches assure that canned goods won't crash to the floor during the aftershocks. Pictures hang from hooks instead of nails, and heirloom china no longer occupies high shelves.
"When you go to bed at night, you make sure your cupboards are locked and your dishes all put away," said Mrs. Haroldsen, whose 2-year-old was thrown against a wall by an aftershock in August measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale.
[Salt Lake Tribune; October 28, 1984]

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