When Two Major Earthquakes Rocked New Hampshire During the Holidays
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.
It’s 1940. You’re just digging out of the Great Depression and praying for loved ones fighting in World War II. There’s never been a time when New Hampshire was in greater need of a little Christmas.
So of course, that’s when the Granite State experiences its biggest earthquake.
Twice. And within four days of each other.
On December 20, 1940, residents in Central New Hampshire were awoken at 2:27 a.m. by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake, by far the largest in the state’s recorded history to date.
Children hanging their stockings for a visit from Santa had to make other plans, as the quake actually caused several chimneys to collapse. In fact, the quake was so powerful that many tombstones actually rotated.
Just imagine that. In New Hampshire, of all places. And right before Christmas.
Then came the “worse” earthquake.
Said to be shorter but seemingly more powerful and frightening, a second earthquake struck New Hampshire on December 24 – Christmas Eve. And as it occurred at 8:43 in the morning, parents couldn’t even tell their kids it was just Santa falling off the roof.
According to the Northeast States Emergency Consortium, the second event did indeed prove more harmful, causing aftershocks that lasted into the New Year.
In fact, one person claimed to have felt 129 aftershocks through the month of January. As virtually all my neighbors seem to invest only in fireworks, that doesn’t seem so crazy to me, but it was a big deal back then!
New Hampshire has had several minor earthquakes just this year, but the distinction of “largest” remains a tie during Christmas week of 1940.
Jingle bells, indeed.