Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Earthquake shook McMinnville, Linfield campus April 13, 1949

Story in Nov. 17, 2017, McMinnville N-R/News-Register mentions, "In 1948, an earthquake in McMinnville drove people out of the stores..."

Mac News researched the earthquake. It appears the earthquake was in 1949, not 1948.

"On (Wednesday) April 13, 1949, Yamhill county residents felt an earthquake that was centered between Olympia and Tacoma, Washington.  In Washington, this quake caused eight deaths. While Yamhill County was shaken by the quake, damage was minimal, and no deaths occurred. The quake rocked northwestern Oregon, extending as far south as Eugene, Coos Bay, and Reedsport, and east as far as Prineville and La Grande. In downtown Salem, West Salem and in outlying areas buildings trembled, light fixtures swayed, dishes rattle in cupboards. Most of those who were outside at the time reported no shock." Source: Yamhill County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

Linfield Prof. emeritus Edith “Duffy” Reynolds, Class of 1951, a McMinnville resident, was a Linfield student eating in the college’s dining room in the ground floor of Pioneer Hall when the earthquake hit.

“I thought I was getting sick,” Duffy told Wildcatville in November 2017. “But, then I realized, especially after the (earthquake-savvy) students from California ran out of the room, that I was getting tossed around” because of the tremors. Once outside, she watched Pioneer's bell tower swaying.

Her roommate was taking a geology class in the ground floor (beneath the college President's Office) in Melrose Hall when the earthquake began.

The class was taught by George Barnes, physics and geology assistant professor. When things started shaking the prof exited the room through a ground-level window with students following him.

Front page story in the Thursday, April 14, 1949, McMinnville T-R/Telephone-Register had headline "Quake Jolts McMinnville!"

Headline was over this story:

A series of share earth shocks, followed by tremblors of decreasing intensity, shook McMinnville along with the rest of the Northwest Wednesday, causing little else than a rash of 'earthquake stories.' Damage in the city was confined to cracking plaster and breakage of small household articles.

The shocks, occurring at 11:55 a.m., rocked the city first with a light shock, followed by a heaver tremor. Shaking of the earth continued with decreasing intensity for the next three minutes.

Thousands of residents and offer workers thronged to the streets following the realization that an earthquake was in progress. Office staffs in Yamhill County's venerable courthouse made haste to evacuate the ancient structure as its three-story height swayed and trembled.

Deputy Sheriff Ford Hagen released prisoners from the cells and brought them into the clear under guard.

The large water tower at the Farmers Cooperative Creamery swayed heavily and cross-braces were loosened, necessitation the employment of a crew to tighten the members of the structure.

Radio station's KMCM's new 210-football tower swayed heavily and workmen, engaged in construction of the transmitter building and student, reported the heavy guy wirers "sang like violin strings."

Wall cracks were reported at Julian Eccles Motors and at the L.A. Courtemanche building. A report that large cracks had developed at the junior high school were denied this morning by School Superintendent Frank Fagan. A crack in the driveway at Macy and Son developed during the quake and cracks were noticed in the new garage at the rear of West Coast Telephone company.

Slight damage to stock was reported in some downtown McMinnville stores as the temblor jarred glassware and other breakables to the floor.

No injuries as a result of the quake were reported in the McMinnville area, although the first reaction by a number of the residents was that they were suffering a heart attack or high blood pressure. Nausea was noticed by a number following the trembling.

The city water and light department reported no breakages, either in water mains or in power lines.

An issue of the T-R with headline “Earthquake Damage Reports Varied With Some Failing to Note Shock” and an April 21, 1949, dateline from the Webfoot area south of Dayton (Yamhill County) said, “The earthquake of last Wednesday was felt in varying degrees of intensity in this community last week, some not feeling it at all and others reporting quite severe shaking and some plaster cracking. No major damages reported.”

Other earthquake recollections by Linfielders:

--Ken Rogers, Class of 1951:

He was attending a history class in Melrose Hall ground floor. It was taught by Prof. Jonas “Stein” Jonasson. When the earthquake started, a student sitting in front of Rogers asked him to move his feet from the back of her chair because her chair was shaking. “I don’t have my feet on your chair,” Ken responded. Meanwhile Prof. Jonasson started sweating and clutched the podium from which he was delivering his lecture. Rogers told the professor and fellow students, “we’re having an earthquake. Let’s get out of here.” They did. Exiting through the classroom windows.

--Tom Meicho, Class of 1951:
He was in a geology glass in Melrose Hall ground floor. After the earthquake happened “most of us ran up the stairs. Maybe not the wise decision,” Tom said. “When I dashed out of the room I looked back and our professor was trying to help a very large woman out the window. I started laughing until I saw the pillars in front of the building shake from side to side. Later, I had the job of cleaning the chapel. A lot of dust and dirt fell.”

--By the way, notice that Duffy, Ken and Tom were all attending class in Melrose. That was because at that time (1951) all, almost all or many Linfield classes were held in Melrose.