Tremors in Taylor

I still remember the first earthquake I felt.

I’d been living in Black Mountain, North Carolina (a few miles east of Asheville) for a little less than a year. It was almost midnight, and I was up working.

The earthquake in question was centered around Hot Springs, about fifty miles northwest of me. Up until that time I had no idea that the Appalachians were seismically active.

Actually, earthquakes are pretty common in the region. Usually, they are less than 3.0 in magnitude (the one in Hot Springs was a 3.8).

A few years later, when I was living in Chattanooga, I was awakened by another earthquake to the east, centered near Vonore. Even having felt a few prior to that, it was still pretty unsettling to wake up to the feeling of the earth shaking beneath me.

That feeling is exactly what folks in Taylor felt about 5:44 am on Sunday, August 16, 1931. Within fifteen minutes, two more shocks followed.

The August 17 edition of the Austin American reported that city attorney J. Bouldin Rector and his wife were awakened by the tremor and even had a brief disagreement about who had been shaking their bed, before discovering that the real culprit was centered about four hundred and fifty miles to the west near the small town of Valentine.

Much of central Texas felt the quake, and though there were no reported deaths, many buildings in Valentine were damaged (including the school, which had to be demolished).

In Taylor, the damage was minimal, but the bell tower of the 1891 First Christian Church building was damaged badly enough that the top portion was removed.

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