The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Earthquake Remembrance is slated for Monday on the city dock

Annual gathering remembers those that died in Valdez from the 1964 tragedy


Photo from Valdez Museum collection

An abandoned truck in a fissure in Old Town Valdez after the Great Earthquake of 1964.

Everyone is welcome to join the 53-year remembrance Monday, to honor those who died as a result of the Great Earthquake of 1964.

"Join the Pioneers of Alaska to remember those lost," organizers said in an open invitation to the people of Valdez. "A prayer, a moment of silence, and reading of names of those lost during the earthquake."

The remembrance will be held on the Kelsey Dock this Monday at 5:30 p.m.

For many in Valdez, the anniversary of the largest earthquake recorded in North America - and still the second largest recorded worldwide - is still very personal.

The 9.2 earthquake struck at 5:36p.m. on March 27, 1964. It was centered in Port Valdez.

"The earthquake lasted approximately 4.5 minutes and is the most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. history," the US Geological Survey says on its website dedicated to the event. "It is also the second largest earthquake ever recorded, next to the M9.5 earthquake in Chile in 1960."

While over 120 people died across Alaska as a result of the earthquake, Valdez lost 32 people - and the village of Chenega lost 23 of its 68 residents.

The shaker was so intense, it caused the Space Needle in Seattle to "visibly sway," according to the USGS.

"The earthquake caused rivers, lakes, and other waterways to slosh as far away as the coasts of Texas and Louisiana," the survey said. "Water-level recorders in 47 states-the entire Nation except for Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island- registered the earthquake. It was so large that it caused the entire Earth to ring like a bell: vibrations that were among the first of their kind ever recorded by modern instruments."

Twenty-seven people - including children - died while on the town's dock. The steamer Chena was dropping off cargo when the earthquake hit, and all on the dock perished.

What many think of as a tsunami or tidal wave hit. It was actually a type of underground avalanche survivors say, and that much of the water damage to the town after the quake was caused by broken water mains and an unusually high tide that evening.

The town's leaders later moved the town - it's people and a number of buildings that survived the devastation - to its current location.

For scientists, the earthquake was also a seminal event.

"Although the Great Alaska Earthquake was tragic because of the loss of life and property, it provided a wealth of data about subductionzone earthquakes and the hazards they pose," the survey said in a paper published in 2013. "The leap in scientific understanding that followed the 1964 earthquake has led to major breakthroughs in earth science research worldwide over the past half century."

Those that perished:


Dan Boddy, Freddie O. Brown, Lowell Duane Carriker , Dennis Rutledge, Douglas Granger , Paul Gregorieff, David Lee Growden, James Wilson Growden, James William Growden Jr. , Robert P. Harrison, Sam Johnson, Chester G. Joslyn, Stanley Knuteson, Howard Kraiger , Georgia 'Pat' Kulstad, Ross A McCoy, Donald Mueller,

Donald M. O'Leary, Richard J. Robinson, William E. Schmidt, Sterlin O. Stapp, Debra L. Stuart, Larry P. Stuart , Janice (Janis) Stuart, Larry P. Stuart , Sammie Marie Stuart, George T. "Joe" Tabasco, Ralph E. Thompson, Jack Van Buskirk, Phil G. Wheeler, Milton T. Williams, and Gerald L. Zook .

Anderson Bay

Photo from Valdez Museum collection

Fires tore through Valdez in the aftermath of the 1964 earthquake.

Harry Henderson


Rhonda L. Eleshansky, Sally Eleshansky, Steve Eleshansky, Jack Evanoff , Nellie Evanoff, Sally Evanoff, William Evanoff, Arvella Jackson, Cindy Jackson, Dan Jackson, Dora Jackson, Darla Jackson, JoAnn Kompkoff, Julia Kompkoff , Norma J. Kompkoff , Richard Kompkoff , Willy Kompkoff, Jean Selanoff , Robert Salanoff , Tommy Selanoff , William Selanoff , Phillip Totemoff Jr., and Anna Vlasoff.

Plane crash after the quake

Thomas Patrick Carroll, James Artin Rowe, Kenneth Wayne Ayers, and Thomas Earl Norris.


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