The Main Museum features many original photos of the 1964 tsunami devastation. In the early morning hours of March 28, 1964, a series of five tsunami waves struck Crescent City, killing 11 people, injuring 24, and destroying 29 city blocks. The devastation caused more than 14 million dollars damage, the worst along the U S. west coast in recorded history.

The word tsunami is from two Japanese words combined, to be “harbor wave.” Generated by ocean-bottom movement usually associated with earthquakes, the resulting energy waves are almost invisible at sea, but become surface waves when approaching shallow coastlines, and are most destructive when funneled into enclosed areas such as harbors and bays.

Tsunamis have swept the Del Norte Coast, more than once: written historical records extend back to 1700; the most recent event occurred in 2016. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) formally recognizes Crescent City as a TsunamiReady Community today, reflecting the town’s attention to tsunami hazard education, preparedness, and public safety goals.