National Geographic : 1915 Jan
SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH EARTHQUAKES Quite a number of the mummies were brought down to the ship and were ulti mately sent to the Smithsonian Institu tion in Washington, where, I presume, the curious can inspect them at any time. It is now known that while Arica was probably the center of disturbance, the shocks were felt nearly I,ooo miles, and great destruction was occasioned in Bo livia. The beach line of the ocean was raised from 2 to 20 feet for over 600 miles. The tidal wave was felt at the Sand wich Islands, 5,580 nautical miles distant, only 12 hours and 37 minutes later than it had broke on the desolated shores of Peru. DESOLATION AND DEATH At Arica we found but desolation' and death. Where once had stood that pretty little city, a flat, sandy plain stretched before us. Except on the outskirts, higher up on the mountain, not a house marked the spot. Built to withstand earthquake shocks, the houses were low-few boast ing a second story-with light roofs and thick walls of "adobe brick" (sun-dried mud). The shocks first leveled them, then the waves dissolved and washed them away. On the higher slopes a few houses, part of a church, and a hideous mass of debris, composed of everything, including dead bodies, was piled 20 or 30 feet high. This was all that remained of Arica. The loss of life was proportionate to the destruction of property. We could not ascertain how great it was, but as all provisions, clothing, and even fresh water were destroyed, the pitiful remnant of the few hundred persons who gathered about the "Wateree," living on our stores, in tents made of our sails, told the story as could no figures. Afloat, with the ex ception of the crew of the "Wateree," nearly all perished. It was three weeks before relief came. Then can well be imagined the swelling of the hearts and the mist that dimmed the eyes of our sailor men as we looked across the water and hailed the stars and stripes floating from the mast-head of the old United States frigate "Powhatan" as she steamed majestically into that desolated harbor. Her decks were filled with all possible stores and supplies, which were soon distributed among the stricken and helpless who had sought our aid and succor. Careful survey of the "Wateree" proved that while she was practically un injured, it would be impossible to launch her; so, after removing the most valu able of her equipment, she was sold at auction to a hotel company. An epidemic of yellow fever broke up that enterprise, and the old ship was afterward used suc cessively as a hospital, a store-house, and, lastly, a target for great guns during the Peruvian-Chilian war. But her gaunt iron ribs still rise above the shifting sands, a fitting monument to one of the greatest of modern earthquakes.* *See "The World's Most Cruel Earth quake," by Charles W. Wright, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, April, 1909. "The Recent Eruption of Mount Katmai," by George C. Martin, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1913. "Taal Volcano and Its Recent Destructive Eruption," by Dean C. Worcester, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, April, 1912.