New Madrid Earthquakes, 1811-1812
From December 1811 to April 1812, the New Madrid Fault Zone experienced four powerful earthquakes and thousands of minor ones. Their scale ranged from 7.0 to 8.1 on the Richter Scale. The first two of these occurred on December 16, 1811. Damage to the two small towns in the area, New Madrid and Caruthersville, was significant. The landscape was permanently altered, the Mississippi River ran backwards for a time, and Reelfoot Lake was formed.