Anchorage, AK Good Friday Earthquake, Mar 1964

Downtown Anchorage Anchorage Main Street Anchorage Railroad Bridge Collapse

Typically, Seward, 60 miles south of Anchorage, had only two known dead, but its business was 95 percent destroyed and few of its men still had jobs.

The Alaskan Railroad, vital route from Seward to the interior, was a jumble of wrecked cars and twisted rails. A mile-long waterfront area collapsed into the sea.

All along the ring of the Gulf of Alaska where the great quake struck in fury at 5:36 p.m. Friday it was a similar story of low casualties but mighty ruin.

Anchorage, the metropolis of the state with an area population of 100,000, counted 12 dead. Its business district and its best residential section is were tottering heaps of awesome wreckage.

Kodiak Island enumerated 12 dead. Its fishing fleet and canning plants were wrecked.
One hundred and five miles southeast of Anchorage, reports from the small town of Valdez, said many of the 32 dead were on a dock that collapsed when hit by a huge sea wave.

The sea waves also worked terrible and deadly destination thousands of miles away, killing at least 16 persons in California and Oregon. Worst of these sufferers was Crescent City, Calif., more than 2,000 miles from the quake's epicenter. There 11 persons died and 15 were still missing.

Anchorage, center of the Alaskan recovery effort, went soberly about its business, flinching at successive after-shocks.

One shake, felt strongly in Anchorage Easter evening, was rated at 7.3 on the Richter scale of energy by the University of Washington at Seattle 1,500 miles away. University scientists said it was a separate quake, in the Aleutian trench 600 miles northwest of Friday's epicenter, but Anchorage felt it with jittery apprehension.

An earlier mid-afternoon shock led to a civil defense warning of a new tidal wave headed for Seward. It was called off quickly, but people who had lived through Friday evening's terror fled to high ground.

The Friday evening quake was rated by experts at 8.2 to 8.7 on the Richter scale. This scale, measuring the release of energy, has never before rated a quake higher than 8.6 and then only rarely and in unpopulated places.

Anchorage wholesale grocers estimated they had about a 30-day stock of essential foods on hand -- mostly in wrecked warehouses, but still usable.

Electric current was being restored slowly. Many homes and buildings were without light, heat or power.

Drinking water had to be boiled or melted from snow. Mass typhoid inoculations were arranged.
Police, soldiers and National guardsmen, patrolling downtown Anchorage, reported no cases of attempted looting.

Guardsmen, patrolling downtown's teetering four-ton slabs of the modernistic five-story J. C. Penny store and other dangerous ruins. Dynamiting was considered and rejected.

Continued