Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Earthquakes on the U.S. East Coast are by no means rare -- they're just seldom felt because of their low magnitude. An exception was a tremor in 1935 that gave the Washington area a jolting reminder of how unsteady the Earth really is. An excerpt from The Post of Nov. 1, 1935:
Just after 1 a.m. today an earthquake shook Washington and vicinity. Thousands of persons were awakened by the shaking of their apartments and homes. Apparently there was no damage.
At the same time the Associated Press reported that the temblor was felt from Toronto to Washington and from Boston to points in Indiana. In some cities slight damage was done.
The reaction at all places was similar to that in Washington. Newspaper offices were swamped with calls from frightened residents wondering what had happened.
One of the first to call The Post was Labert St. Claire, transportation assistant to Secretary of Commerce Roper. He said the shock felt like his bed was being pulled from under him. He said the shock lasted about 30 seconds.
The house shook so that his entire family was awakened. Mr. St. Claire lives near College Park. He lives in the old Gen. Beall home which is of brick construction and solidly built.
Another all came from John Connell, of 1717 Tenth street northwest. He said he was sound asleep when a shaking of his bed awakened him. This was at 1:04 a.m., he said. He got up and there was another quiver of his room starting at 1:06 a.m.
"Everything seemed to be going in waves," was the reaction of Ruth Bitting, night phone operator at the Western Union office at 708 Fourteenth street northwest.
"I was taking a telegram over the phone when everything seemed to be going in waves. I looked at the switchboard. It was waving. I looked at the clock. It was waving, too. The vibrations lasted one or two minutes."
Many calls came from the vicinity of Fourteenth and Girard streets northwest. Apparently whole apartments trembled so severely that almost all of their residents were aroused.
Workers at the District Building phoned The Post. Alarmed employees at Emergency Hospital also phoned police.
From a man at Eighteenth and Columbia road came this description: "My wife and I were reading the paper shortly after 1 a.m. when suddenly we had a feeling of something under us swaying. We had been reading of the quakes in the Midwest and it suddenly occurred to us that Washington also was having an earthquake."
This series is available at www.washingtonpost.com