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The Night the Mountain Fell

Edmund Christopherson

Book Overview: 

A severe earthquake, centered in the vacation area of West Yellowstone, Montana, shook the ground and its inhabitants and visitors on August 17, 1959, at 11.37 pm. A mountainside fell, a lake formed, roads and houses disappeared, people were trapped, people died. The author of this narrative went to the area the day after the quake, took first-hand stories of the catastrophe, researched in the following months, and wrote this account within a year of the shaking. The printed source has many informative photographs.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .West Yellowstone, 10 miles south, by phone, he rushed his wife, Margaret, and their six children into the car, started out, and immediately crashed over a 13-foot drop-off scarp that the quake had jutted up between his home and the highway.


On the night of the quake Mrs. Grace Miller, a widow who, in her seventies, is still sprightly enough to run, single-handed, the Hillgard Fishing Lodge cabin and boat rentals on the north shore of Hebgen Lake, found herself suddenly wakened about midnight. She didn’t know what was happening, but she felt she had to get out of the house. She threw a blanket around herself. The door was jammed, and she had to kick to get it open.

Outside the door she saw a big, 5-foot crevice. As she leaped across it, the house dropped from under her into the lake. More crevices kept opening in the moonlit ground as she walked away from the lake. “Rabbits were skedaddling in every which direction,” she said, but . . . Read More

Community Reviews

While the subject matter is certainly interesting (I never even knew this had happened), the way it was written reads like a Wikipedia entry. There's very little emotion, just facts.

There are a lot of people mentioned, and any one of their stories probably would have made for an interesting book...more

Definitely dated account of the events at Quake Lake. However, an interesting historical prespective that I hadn't read before as well as some accounts I've never heard before.

The Night the Mountain Fell: The Story of the Montana-Yellowstone Earthquake by Edmund Christopherson
Never realized this had happeend. Also didn't know that there were so many areas effected by this. Stories of those who were there and what they were doing along with watching what others around...more

The Night The Mountain Fell — Edmund Christopherson (14 titled chapters) January 23-27, 2018

Very interesting, gripping read of the history of this tragic natural disaster. Short, concise, to the point and worth-while read. (Took me longer due to many interruptions.)

I found the telling of this non...more

Good collection of information on the quake

I've known about this quake for a long time and wanted to know more. This makes me even more interested in going to the site.

Very interesting. I didn't know this part of history. It was factual yet told stories of individuals involved. Not particularly well-written as a story, but seemed to stay true to the facts.

Montana's 1959 Earthqake

The first hand accounts bring the event into focus. People facing unexpected natural disaster are tested beyond belief. The author pieces together a fascinating tale.

I didn't put a read date on this book since the first time I read/looked at it, I would have been around 11 or 12. It got me interested in earthquakes at that age.

It happened at night outside the border of Yellowstone and Idaho, creating Quake Lake and a hugs slide area. The book has some gruesom...more

This was an interesting book full of first-hand accounts and geologic facts of the tragic 1959 Montana-Yellowstone earthquake and landslide. With a 7.8 rating on the Richter scale, it was nearly as big as the 8.2 rating of the 1906 San Fransisco quake. Having occurred late into the night, the acc...more

Interesting account of Earthquake Lake and the Madison Canyon area. After I had started to read it, my daughter thought it looked interesting. I also got my husband interested in it after we drove by the site of the mountain slide and Earthquake Lake on the way to Yellowstone. The earthquake is m...more

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