April 1949 Earthquake Remembered

On April 13, 1949 at 11:55 a.m., a 7.1 magnitude earthquake occurs in Western Washington centered between Olympia and Tacoma. As of 2002, this is the largest earthquake in Puget Sound since non-Indian people started to immigrate and settle along its shores.

Eight people were killed and dozens received serious injuries. Two of the dead were children: Marvin Klegman, 11, of Tacoma, who was at his post as a noon-hour crossing guard and was crushed by falling brick, and Jack Roller, 18, senior class president at Castle Rock. (HistoryLink.org)

(article from Journal American on April 13, 1999)
(featured image from The Olympian)

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Author: Bruce Caplan

Bruce Caplan is a Seattle native with very eclectic interests. Back in the 70’s he was the sponsor of a 40’s music radio show on KXA in Seattle. When he watched the movie Titanic staring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck in 1953 Caplan became fascinated with the horrible tragedy. In 1996 his book on the subject was released. It’s now in the 20th printing. A decade ago Caplan began to do a weekly radio show on KIXI. The program is called Radio Trivia and he weekly brings to his audience the best of the best of the comedies from the golden age of radio. Because of Caplan’s interest in true crime, he began a second program on KIXI called Crime Club. On this show he often discuses events with authors of books on criminal subjects and weekly plays the great radio mysteries from long ago. Bruce has lectured throughout our nation and on scores of cruises. His greatest thrill is searching through the goldmine of radio gems of mysteries and comedies from yesteryear and bringing them back to an eager audience of young and old. --- View other articles by Bruce Caplan

2 thoughts on “April 1949 Earthquake Remembered

  1. I was three when the 49 quake hit…I have vague memories of trying to walk down the short hallway of our apartment in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle…the significant memory I have, is being on the main stairway of my High School (Lincoln Seattle) in the Spring of 1965, when I heard a loud rumble, and then had trouble finding the next few steps!…Scores of female students began to scream…for some reason, I thought we might have been hit with an atomic bomb!…it was the Cold War era…anyway, I made my way back down the stairs, noticing my Journalism teacher rather calmly drinking a cup of coffee, standing in a doorway, just casually looking at the panicking students running out the main entrance—in retrospect, that could have been a disaster, if the bricks in that older building had fallen off. However, the only damage to the building, was a slight crack in the main chimney. The whole event only lasted for maybe 20 second, but was quite sharp at the outset…Eventually, it was rated as being a 6.8 on that scale they use…the final biggie, that 2001 Nisqually event, was kinda fun!…my home in Everett was experiencing a slight, but definite rolling effect, for quite a long time–maybe 25 seconds or so…I had time to jump into the hallway and holler “Hang Ten”!..to the delight of my two sons..my wife was not so impressed!

  2. This happened six years before I was born. My mother was working in the restaurant at Frederick & Nelson’s downtown when the quake hit. She said it was frightening and she remembers water pipes bursting in the building. Then 16 years later came the April 1965 quake, which I remember vividly as a fourth-grader at the time at Sacajawea Elementary School in the Maple Leaf area of north Seattle. I remember it sounded like 1,000 trucks coming down the street right before the shaking started. Of course, then the next big regional quake was in 2001, which I felt all the way down here in Oregon.

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