Ypsilanti Rocks and Rolls

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2007,
Summer 2007
Original Images:

Author: George Ridenour

Prosecuting Attorney Albert Rapp thought burglars were trying to break down his door. Shaking beds, breaking dishes, and falling furniture rudely awakened residents on Miles Street. Frank Paine reported a queer sensation that night as he heard the furniture shake and felt the floor rocking….probably a large truck passing in the night? Had Elvis come to town? Was it teenagers with loud music or vandals?

Ypsilanti residents were awakened on March 2, March 9, and again in November of 1937 to the rumblings of three Ypsilanti earthquakes! The one in November had even broken the seismograph at the University of Michigan!

Two inch headlines in the Ypsilanti Daily Press blared:

•Earth Tremor Felt in Ypsilanti Today; Seismograph at University of Michigan Records Moderate Shock, College Students Feel Buildings Shake.
•Ypsilanti Rocked by Second Tremor in Week!
•Eastern States Feel Earthquake, Seismograph Broken in Michigan Tremors, Thousands Wakened from Sleep, Buildings Sway, But Shocks Cause No Serious Damage; Felt in Ypsilanti. Residents of the time recalled that fifty years prior, around 1885 the fine citizens of Ypsilanti had felt another quake.

The State of Michigan Circular #14: “Seismic Disturbances in Michigan” By Geologist D. Michael Bricker, Lansing-1977 states that earthquakes in Michigan were documented as early as 1638! Only thirty-four epicenters were actually located in Michigan for the years 1872–1967. Michigan lies in a region of low risk for earthquakes.

“The Indians said the waters of the lake began to boil, bubble, foam and roll about as though they had been in a large kettle over a hot fire, and that in a few minutes up came great numbers of turtles and hurried to the shore, upon which they had a great turtle feast” (Hobbs, 1911).”

Cited by Von Hake (1973) is the earthquake that was reported on Orchard Lake on December 17, 1811. “The Indians said the waters of the lake began to boil, bubble, foam and roll about as though they had been in a large kettle over a hot fire, and that in a few minutes up came great numbers of turtles and hurried to the shore, upon which they had a great turtle feast” (Hobbs, 1911).
The moral of the story is that even before Elvis, Ypsilanti knew how to Rock And Roll.