The 1906 San Francisco Fire And Earthquake

1717 words - 7 pages

"Just after 5 A.M. on April 18, 1906, an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale ripped through sleeping San Francisco toppling buildings, exploding gas mains, and trapping thousands of citizens beneath tons of stone, broken wood, and twisted metal. Herds of cattle stampeded madly through the streets. The air reverberated with the panicked screams of the doomed and dying." (Kurzman)To some, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire was one of the most horrific events to take place in the twentieth century. An estimated ten thousand people died in the disaster. After the earthquake soldiers lined the streets with the order to shoot suspected looters. These soldiers some drunk ended up shooting bayoneting or hanging in the street at least five hundred suspected looters. (Dolan)By 1906 San Francisco's population had reached over 450,000 people. Most of these people were asleep on Wednesday, April 18 at about 5:13 A.M. when the earthquake came. The first shock lasted for about forty-seven seconds. The second shock came at 5:18 followed by a third shock that came at 5:20. Two more shocks followed at 5:25 and 5:42. The next shock didn't come until 8:13. Eleven more shocks followed at 9:13, 9:25, 10:49, 11:05, 12:03, 12:10, 2:23, 2:27, 4:50, 6:49, and 7 o'clock. The earthquake was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and inland as far as central Nevada. 9100 miles away in Gottingen, Germany a recorded seismogram showed the ground in Germany moved as a result of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. After the quake, a 290 mile crack was left along the San Andreas Fault. Offsets in the fault ranged anywhere from eight to twenty eight feet. The ground was moving at a speed of about three miles per hour. (USGS)John Farish, a mining engineer who was staying at the St. Francis, one of the city's finest hotels, said the following: "I was awakened by a loud rumbling noise which might be compared to the mixed sounds of a strong wind rushing through a forest and the breaking of waves against a cliff. In less time than it takes to tell, a concussion, similar to that caused by the nearby explosion of a huge blast, shook the building to its foundations and it began a series of the most lively motions imaginable. Accompanied by a creaking, grinding, rasping sound, it was followed by tremendous crashes as the cornices of adjoining buildings and chimneys tottered to the ground. Everything in the room was going round and round. The chandelier was trying to touch the ceiling and the chairs were all chasing each other. Crash-crash-crash! It was a terrible scene. Everywhere the walls were falling and clouds of yellow dust were rising. My God, I thought it would never stop!" (Klages)Future Police Commissioner at the same time in a different part of the city said: "The whole street was undulating. It was as if the waves of the ocean were coming toward me, and billowing as they came." (Klages)A post office employee named Roland Roche, described the following...

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