The History of New Madrid, a Major Earthquake Zone

New Madrid, facing away from the Mississippi

One of the centers of seismic activity, New Madrid has a long history of earthquakes. These tremors may prove to be disruptive to the nation.

New Madrid is a city located on the Mississippi River in the southeast part of the state of Missouri. Founded in the late 1700s, the site is most famous for a series of major earthquakes in the early 1800s. Today, the area is known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone. New Madrid in the 21st century is fairly small location that honors its rich history.

Establishing New Madrid

According to a letter published on August 27, 1789, in Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser, the community of New Madrid was settled in 1788 from a grant on the right bank of the Mississippi River. The letter addressed the many features of the area and talked about the importance of establishing a settlement in New Madrid. Many historians believe this helped establish the region in general.

A History of Earthquakes

Between 1811 and 1812, at least one thousand earthquakes hit the area, many of which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates hit eight on the Richter scale. This caused detrimental effects on the area and were felt hundreds of miles away. Besides causing the area to be notorious for the earthquakes for years, it also became a hot spot for researchers into seismic activity. The area is considered one of the most potent and dangerous fault lines in the world and it may possibly only be a matter of time before another series of earthquakes hits. In light of recent increased activity on a global level, the New Madrid Seismic Zone has been targeted as a place of major concern for a natural disaster, particularly due to its proximity to the major city of Memphis, a hub of transportation and industry.

The Battle of Island Number Ten

On July 28, 1861, Confederate troops under the leadership of General Gideon J. Pillow occupied the town and set up a major defense. The siege became a major contribution during the early days of the Civil War in preventing Union troops from passing further south along the river. The following year, Union troops utilized the natural weakness of the fortifications, namely its use of a single road for supplies, to take the region known at the time as Kentucky Bend. After securing the territory, the conflict became known as the Battle of Island Number Ten.

New Madrid’s Population

Throughout the years, the population of the New Madrid remained minimal. In the year 2000, the census showed that there were 3,334 people residing in the town. With a total of 882 families. Most people, due to the stories of the earthquakes, are scared to move into the region. However, those who chose to make New Madrid their home, have a long history, much of which goes back to the 1800s. This has proved beneficial to research.

Uncle Tupelo

In 1993, the town was memorialized in the final album by Uncle Tupelo. The alternative country group recorded a song called “New Madrid” on its “Anodyne” record.