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Five years later: the July 6, 2017 Lincoln earthquake

2017 Lincoln earthquake damage
Posted at 1:46 PM, Jul 06, 2022

HELENA — Just after midnight on July 6, 2017 one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Montana in decades shook the community of Lincoln, northwest of Helena.

People reported feeling the 5.8 magnitude quake across Montana and the northwest, with some reports coming from as far away as Vancouver and Lethbridge, Canada.

The earthquake spawned more than a dozen significant aftershocks and led to hundreds of calls to Lewis and Clark County Dispatchers.

2017 lincoln earthquake map

Crews were dispatched to check roads, bridges and other infrastructure for damage or to see if residents needed assistance.

No one was injured, but the earthquake did cause some minor damage. At the D&D Foodtown grocery store and other businesses in Lincoln the earthquake knocked products off shelves and onto the floor leaving a mess of broken jars, spilled food and beverages.

The July 6 quake would end up as one of the strongest earthquakes in the United States in 2017. And while strong quakes are rare, there is a history of them in the Helena area and in Montana.

The Helena area saw three earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 5.8 in October of 1935. The strongest of the three, a 6.2 magnitude quake on October 18, caused catastrophic damage in the city.

1935 Helena Earthquake

There is also the earthquake on August 17, 1959 that struck near West Yellowstone. According to the USGS, the 7.3 magnitude earthquake is one of the two largest ever recorded in the Intermountain West. It killed more than two dozen people and triggered a massive landslide that blocked the flow of Madison River and created Montana's Quake Lake.