Earthquake Pit feature
The so called "Charleston Earthquake"* struck the Augusta Area just
after nine o'clock on 31 August 1886. Major J. W. Reilly, the
commandant of the Arsenal recorded his impressions and observations
of earthquake in a letter to his superiors in Washington, D.C. just
a two days after the event.
Major Reilly vividly describes the terrifying sensations which the
earthquake triggered and how the plaster from ceilings, walls and moldings
dropped about him and his family as they fled the shaking house.
(click here for the text of the letter)
The pit feature, (right), was discovered
in the fall of 1999 on the future site of the Phase I classroom/office
building, now approaching completion. The pit is interpreted as
a burial area for the fallen plaster removed from the commandant's house.
It was located hardly 40 feet south of the porch of that building (now
ASU's admissions office, Benet House). Interestingly enough, the
shovel, seen in the second photograph was found near the bottom of the
pit and probably was a tool broken in digging the pit and abandoned
in it by the workmen repairing the Arsenal commandant's home in late
1886 or early 1887.
* The epicenter of the earthquake was located near Charleston, South
Carolina, hence the name "Charleston earthquake". The quake is
estimated to have had a magnitude of 6.6 to 7.6 on the Richter
Scale. Charleston suffered severely; Augusta had more modest damage,
including some at the Arsenal. The earthquake was felt as far
away as Alabama and Ohio.
Return to main Archaeology Project page