In the autumn of 1811, the United States was barely 35 years old. The fledgling nation included only 17 states, all east of the Mississippi River, but it boasted a lot of new territory thanks to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Neither the buyers nor the sellers knew that the recent addition’s basement contained a seismic time bomb nearly ready to go off.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.