On this date in 1811 near New Madrid Mo. a earthquake measuring 8.0 or greater on the Richter scale struck. The earthquake was so powerful that the Mississippi River ran backwards and changed it's course in several places, over 150,000 acres of forest were destroyed and multiple lakes were created, including Reelfoot Lake which measures around ten square miles in size. Church bells rang in Charleston S.C. and Boston Mass. and chimneys fell in Cincinnati, Ohio. The death toll was remarkably light since the areas affected were lightly populated.
Today however, that would not be the case. Located in the New Madrid fault area are the modern cities of St.Louis MO. and Memphis TN. Scientist have estimated that the odds of a 6.0 or greater earthquake happening in this area withing the next 50 years is 9 in 10. A earthquake of the magnitude that struck New Madrid in 1811 would result in untold numbers of lives lost as well as millions upon millions of dollars lost in damages.