Archive for August, 2013

When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder, and the New Madrid Earthquakes – Jay Feldman

It is obvious from my book list that I enjoy history. This book falls right in with that interest. It is a recounting of the earthquakes that occurred along the New Madrid fault in 1811 and 1812, along with select history surrounding that event which was affected by the earthquakes.

That history includes the very beginning of steam boat traffic on the Mississippi, the story of Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian chief and his efforts to recruit the several Indian tribes into a concerted effort to resist further encroachments of (and to recover some of the land taken by) the white man, the establishment of the town of New Madrid by George Morgan and political machinations of James Wilkinson, the murder of slave George by two Lewis brothers, and, to wrap it all up, the war of 1812.

The book is well written and I found it to be good reading, not dry as dust history. I always like history that puts things into timeline perspective, too, as it is helpful to know what was going on in the rest of the world at the time, as this book does.

The author also goes into a description of the nature of the actual earthquakes, describing “P waves” and “S waves” and such. Clearly not his area of expertise, but a good summation of the mechanics of what is believed to have happened.

Clear to anyone who reads this account is the fact that we in the American midwest are still in danger of this unique earthquake zone. Indeed, in my lifetime I have felt three small earthquakes emanating from the New Madrid region, and I am relatively distant from it. With our current population, large buildings and large cities, if we were to experience the same earthquakes today as occurred in 1811 and 1812, we would be in for a massive amount of damage and lives lost.

(Finished 8/25/13)


Sitting here, listening to some of my favorite music and feeling the emotions swell in my heart, I feel sad that others cannot experience what I am feeling. I become sadder still knowing that when I pass beyond this existence, there will be no one here that will feel the same emotions as I. That may seem a pretty self-centered way of thinking but each and every one of us is unique. There will never be another person on earth that has seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched and felt the same things as you. The exact combination of experiences which are you can never be duplicated.

I think that is why we create. Writers, poets, artists, musicians – all creative people – attempting to convey our unique vision, attempting to share our essence before we slip into the final silence, hoping that sometime, somewhere, somehow, a little piece of ourselves will touch and affect a little piece of someone else. It is the only immortality that we may ever be able to achieve.