Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Exploring the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area: Seward— 1964 Earthquake

Click for a larger, printable image.

Click for a larger, printable image.


Location: Seward, AK

Short Description:  The 1964 Earthquake was devastating across the peninsula. In the case of Seward it was not only devastating but also history changing.  Walk through Seward with photos to try to imagine a life prior to the earthquake.

Required Equipment:

Suggested Equipment: Clipboards and notepaper for journaling

Safety Consideration: None

Other Info: The photos provided are from locations scattered around town.  This will require a fair amount of walking .  Dress appropriate for weather and walking.

Instructional Strategies:

The purpose of this lesson is not only to show the destruction of the ‘64 earthquake but how it transformed Seward and really created the town that it is today.

Seward prior to the earthquake was the port city for much of Alaska. It was industrial — the gateway city. This changed on at 5:36 pm on March 27, 1964. The 9.2 magnitude tremor and the resulting tsunamis changed the course of Seward’s role as the port of Alaska.  Viewing these photos of the earthquake while actually being on the site will tell a powerful story of this change and transformation.

Suggested Use: This could be presented as a sort of “treasure hunt”. Starting at one end of town, a photo of the “current” Seward could be shared.  Then, with the help of the map enclosed, students would find the location that the photo was taken. Once there, students should make observations in their notebooks trying to determine what structures/features may have existed prior to 1964.

Once finished, provide the corresponding photo of the way it looked in the days immediately following the earthquake in 1964.

Determine what, if any, of this photo is still visible. Have students describe in their notebooks what this site would have been like prior to 1964. Continue through the tour comparing the photos and sites one at a time.

Again, the main goal is not to dwell on the destruction of the earthquake, but rather to reconstruct a picture of what Seward was like prior to 1964.