I just knew that my world as I knew it was going to end! The old building shook fiercely and groaned for a long time. Then one of the California guys we worked with came rushing into the girls dorm and was shouting at everyone to get out of the building. I was found still in the shower stall hanging on for dear life to the plumbing pipes.
When he got all of the gals out of the dorm, he instructed us to make our way to the Old Faithful Lodge—a newer building and on safer ground. The earth was continually trembling and shaking, and the wind was blowing dirt into our faces, which made seeing and walking very difficult. Our store and dorm were below the Old Faithful Inn, which we had to pass on the way to the Lodge.
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The Inn was in total panic—a chimney and parts of the floor had fallen and water was running out of the east side making evacuation of the tourists tediously slow. I remember seeing hysterical older people running and coming through open windows—one lady in a long, flowing nightgown and shining jewelry was carrying a small dog with her husband running behind her trying to get her fur coat around her.
An older man, fishing rod in hand, clad only in boxer shorts, fishing boots, and a fishing hat with swinging lures wallowing on his head, was trying to get his fishing creel around his arm holding a rod and over his neck, Everyone was frightened and confused. It seemed that only a few—my best guess, those from California—were able to remain somewhat calm and were helping others who were totally out of control.
All the tourists were determined to get to their cars and flee. A string of cars with headlights dancing into the clear night sky were lined up for exodus from the quake area. As frightened as all of us savages were, we stopped to laugh at how the tourists were acting. Savages, as well as tourists, spent a restless night at the Lodge on the floor of the main room. We were all very frightened with only flashlights and candles for light.
Strangers clung to each other as the long night crept slowly by. Praying could be heard everywhere—many sang songs of faith. All cried tears of relief as the light of a new dawn arrived. Darkness in an atmosphere of the unknown is so terrifying. There was a long line of people waiting to use the available working telephones.
After hours we finally got an operator to ring our folks.
Livingston had the telephone office that serviced Yellowstone and the operators were in emergency mode trying to handle all the phone calls coming out of the Park. When I finally got through to my folks, they related that the quake had knocked them from bed, dishes had fallen from the cupboards, and Livingston was still experiencing shock waves.
We were so very frightened.
My dad promised he would come and get us in the morning even if he had to hire a helicopter. That promise of rescue certainly made us feel better. A new lake was formed near Hebgen Lake, and many campers had been killed in the Madison Canyon area. Travel into the Park was almost non-existent. Many of the savages fled with the tourists as soon as they could. We stuck it out and stayed to help clean up the aftermath of the quake until the first of September. There were many, many after quakes. Somehow, we got accustomed to them. The tourist business had dwindled to almost nothing.
Most of the faces we saw were those of our rescuers and emergency personnel. This gave us time to form friendships that are still in place today. The feeling that came over me was, and still is, one of cold trepidation. I had lived to thank God for our safety, my home in Livingston, my wonderful family and friends.
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It was the summer of my 19th year and I was living with my grandparents near the Four Corners on the Gallatin River directly behind Bozeman Hot Springs. My aunts and uncles and cousin from Helena had rented cabins on Hebgen Lake for the day of the quake to enjoy a fishing vacation.
I got very sick just before they arrived in Bozeman. My grandparents decided to stay home and care for me. Later we found out the cabins at Hebgen Lake that they had rented had fallen feet into the lake during the night of the earthquake.
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"THE NIGHT THE MOUNTAIN FELL" MONTANA YELLOWSTONE EARTHQUAKE BOOK
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