Tom Cleary, Staff Writer
Updated 07:51 p.m., Thursday, March 24, 2011
A 1.3 magnitude earthquake shook residents of the Moodus community in the town of East Haddam late Wednesday night.
A loud bang heard across the area around 8:40 p.m. sparked a response from local police and fire departments who feared an explosion at a house, sending them around town searching for the cause. But it was called off once police said they received a report of the geological disturbance.
The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that the earthquake happened at 8:42 p.m., five miles from Moodus, eight miles from Chester and 15 miles from Deep River. It was not large enough to cause any damage.
"Thank you to the dedicated effort to find the source of the quake by our volunteer fire department and to those residents who called in to help us identify the source," said East Haddam First Selectman Mark B. Walter on the town's website. "All of our volunteers performed an exhaustive search till 11 last night. Thank you to all that reported hearing the bang and feeling the movement."
Moodus, a community located in the town of East Haddam, has become known for the so-called "Moodus Sounds." The eerie noises are said to come from fault lines that are underneath the town's wooded and rocky areas. According to a New York Times article from the 1980s, the sounds have been a source of folklore. They can be heard most prevalently near Mount Tom.
"We now know what a Moodus Noise really feels like," said Walter. "The `Moodus Noises' are still going strong!"
Legend states that the area's name derives from a Native American word, morehemoodus, meaning "place of noises," according to a USGS study on earthquake history in Connecticut. The Times article said that the noises were attributed by Native Americans to an angry god and later by Colonial settlers to battles between black magic witches of Haddam and white magic witches of Moodus.
The U.S. Geological Survey said there have been hundreds of reports of earthquakes in Moodus in the past century.
Although those earthquakes -- like Wednesday night's -- were minor, one of the earthquakes in the area caused major damage, albeight a long time ago. On May 16, 1791. That quake caused damage 12 miles south in Clinton and caused damage across southern Connecticut. It was reportedly the largest quake in state history, the USGS said, and it could be felt as far as Boston and New York.
"The stone walls were thrown down, chimneys were untopped, doors which were latched were thrown open, and a fissure in the ground of several rods in extent was afterwards discovered," an observer said, according to a USGS report on earthquake history in Connecticut.
WTNH-News 8 contributed to this report.