August 31, 1886 - Earthquake Rattles South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, was destroyed as a deadly earthquake shook the city and surrounding areas.

On August 31, 1886, the largest recorded earthquake in the history of the southeastern United States killed more than 100 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings.

Before the earthquake, on August 27 and 28th, there were foreshocks felt in Summerville and South Carolina. But at 9:51 p.m. on August 31st, no one was ready for the earthquake that was felt as far away as Boston and Chicago.

The quake was so severe that there was the notion that the Florida peninsula had broken away from North America.

Charleston, South Carolina, was hit the hardest. Almost all of the buildings in the area were damaged, around 14,000 chimneys fell, it caused multiple fires, and water lines and wells were ruptured. Total damage just in this area totalled $5.5 million (about $112 million in today’s money).

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