Something is terribly wrong

Something is terribly wrong (HM25JP)

Location: West Yellowstone, MT 59758 Gallatin County
Buy Montana State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 44° 51.365', W 111° 19.517'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites
Something is Terribly Wrong

Fourteen-year-old Darwin Steffler was in bed in his family's lakeside lodge about 5.5 miles east of here, when he felt the earthquake strike. After checking on his little brothers, he race through the darkened house to the front window. Through the dust and moonlight, he saw the lake dropping; water was gushing across the breakwater of the lodge's marina. "Hebgen dam must have broken, and the lake is draining," he thought.

One of the lodge's brand-new boats had come loose and was drifting. Darwin ran down to the lake edge and waded out to grab it. But as he walked it back to shore, the water began to rise swiftly, and soon he was swimming for his life. When he reached the shore, he tried to make sense of the strange behavior of the lake.

The Entire Lake Bottom Tilted

The bizarre water-level change Darwin Steffler had witnessed was a tsunami-like wave, called a seiche (pronounced "saysh"), caused by the sudden tilting of the land under and around the lakebed.

These waves of destruction wreaked havoc on lakeshore buildings and roads already damaged by the earthquake. Here at Hilgard Lodge, you can still see the results: along the shore there are the remnants of two cabins wrenched off their footings and soaked by the slow, relentless waves. A walk along the road will reveal a gaping scar in the hillside where the highway once ran.

When the ground dropped along the Hebgen Lake Fault, water was displace from the south shore to the north shore - an effect that made it feel like the lake had tilted. Land was lost along the north shore of Hebgen Lake, and land was gained along the south shore of Hebgen Lake.

[the two drawn illustrations have the following captions]


Like water in a tilted pan, the lake sloshed slowly back and forth several times, alternately swallowing and exposing area along the shoreline.

Lake Tilt

After the earthquake, cabin owners found that their cabins more than 500 yards from the lake shore due to the tilting of the land beneath the lake. Canals were dug through the uplifted land to provide access for boats.


It sounded like a freight train rumbling down the tracks starting far away then building to a crescendo and thats when I could feel the ground start to shake.
Darwin Steffler earthquake survivor

[caption for photo with buildings]

Take a path to the remnants of Hilgard Lodge

[between photos]

A Lake Transformed
Even after the seiches had settled, the lake was still playing tricks. Here along the northwest arm, beaches, docks, and roads were flooded by the new, higher lake level. On the southern shore, docks and boats were left permanently high and dry, and many homes that had once been lakeside were now far from the water. The tilt also increased the lake's storage capacity by 2.6 billion gallons-the equivalent of 6,640 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

[caption over second photo]

Continue down the road to see remnants of the broken highway.
HM NumberHM25JP
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, February 18th, 2018 at 7:01pm PST -08:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)12T E 474298 N 4967014
Decimal Degrees44.85608333, -111.32528333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 44° 51.365', W 111° 19.517'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds44° 51' 21.9" N, 111° 19' 31.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)406
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Hebgen Lake Dam, West Yellowstone MT 59758, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. Who or what organization placed the marker?
  10. This marker needs at least one picture.
  11. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  12. Is the marker in the median?