New Madrid Bend of the Mississippi River. Foreground is the town of New Madrid,
Missouri; background is part of Kentucky, cutoff from the rest of the state
by the river. A wooded longitudinal bar (island) is situated in the middle
of the river. This was the epicenter of North America's greatest recorded
earthquakes, a series of magnitude 8 quakes that shook the eastern United
States during the winter of 1811-1812. The Mississippi River flowed backwards
for several hours after the biggest quake.