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  • Writer's pictureSue.

Crescent City, CA and Pacific Coast Tsunamis

While staying near the Redwood National Park we visited Crescent City several times. The rugged Pacific coastline and the Battery Point Lighthouse are the main attractions. The lighthouse was completed in 1856 and was built on a small islet that can be reached by foot only during low tides.

Crescent City is one of the most vulnerable spots on the west coast for tsunamis. Since 1933 the city has recorded 34 tsunamis, more than any other community on the U.S. Pacific Coast. We saw warning signs all along the coastal area.

The worst tsunami was in 1964 ---

(Lifted from the internet)...

"At 5:36 p.m. March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America, a 9.2-magnitude on the Richter scale, shook south-central Alaska, sending buildings toppling in Anchorage.

The massive quake unleashed a tsunami that reached heights of 150 feet in the open ocean and spread across the Pacific, striking the coasts of southeast Alaska, British Columbia and the United States. Of the three states on the West Coast, California — and especially Crescent City near the Oregon border — was the hardest hit by four tidal waves waves that arrived just before midnight. A monster swell flooded the town, killing 11 people and causing an estimated $15 million in damage."

Remarkably, the lighthouse was not harmed in the 1964 tsunami.

Another tsunami on March 12, 2011 killed one person and caused an estimated $50 million in damage to the Crescent City Harbor. After 2011 the harbor was redesigned, strengthened and rebuilt and when a tsunami hit on January 15, 2022 there was very little damage.

Along with the coastal trail and the lighthouse, the small town also has an aquarium, a few restaurants, shops and small galleries. We had dinner at a tourist trap (the Chart House) on the water and a better dinner at a local brewery (SeaQuake Brewing).

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