As I may have mentioned before, I am teaching our History of Missouri course for the first time this semester, not a thrill for most I suppose but something I wanted to do because this region’s weird past was probably what first got me seriously interested in American history as a kid. Putting together my lectures I have been re-informing myself on many favorite topics and discovering some interesting items to share with the class.
For instance, I have been reminded that steamboats were possibly the most dangerous form of powered travel ever invented. Floating palaces of occasional scalding death, those things were, when they didn’t sink, run aground, or out of fuel. At any rate, I thought this page from University of Northern Iowa, “Helpful Hints For Steamboat Passengers” was fairly informative and clever. It admits to being made-up in the first few sentences but when I first found the page I missed that and thought for a while that someone had posted an unusually honest piece of 19th-century travel advice literature.
I also had to remind myself about earthquakes. I was looking up the New Madrid Earthquake 1811-1812 specifically, when “the Mississippi River ran backward.” More generally I re-ingested the fact we here in the Nation’s Doughy Midsection live in a California-esque environment, seismically speaking, only without the beaches, the Hollywood glitz, or buildings designed to withstand earthquakes. Here is a somewhat dated but informative video I found (possibly from the U.S. Geological Survey) that lays out the information without the History Channel hype. Check out the discussion of “liquefaction.” A good time will be had by all: Missouri highways already drive like they are paved over liquid.
If that is not worrisome enough, I also found a far too informative site includes a feature where you can see all the Central U.S. earthquakes detected in the last six months, week, or two hours.