The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 …


Today is the anniversary of another disaster which has long fascinated me … the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Even before moving to the Bay Area and experiencing first-hand the most damaging earthquake since the Great Quake (Loma Prieta in 1989), I had read many articles and several books about the 1906 event … the best of which, in my opinion, is “The San Francisco Earthquake” by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts.

The San Francisco Earthquake by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witt

The San Francisco Earthquake by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witt

Most of the damage to San Francisco as a result of the ’06 quake actually resulted from the ensuing fire, rather than directly from the earthquake … roughly one-quarter of the city was destroyed by the fire.

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 1906

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 1906

San Francisco Earthquake 1906 Map of Fire Damage

San Francisco Earthquake 1906 Map of Fire Damage

The quake was on the San Andreas fault … which ruptured along 296 miles of its length … more than 10 times the length of the Loma Prieta rupture … which means, of course, that damage extended far beyond San Francisco … and reached into Marin County …

San Francisco Earthquake -- Damage on the Fault Line

San Francisco Earthquake — Damage on the Fault Line

…lateral movement was as much as 24 feet in some places …though there now remains little physical evidence of this movement, the Earthquake Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore still shows a good example:

San Francisco Earthquake 1906 Pt. Reyes Fence Displaced

San Francisco Earthquake 1906 Pt. Reyes Fence Displaced

The Pt. Reyes Fence Today

The Pt. Reyes Earthquake Fence Today

One of my favorite items among my collectible postcards is one that was mailed from the “Tamalpais CA” post office on the day of the quake … unfortunately, the postmark does not indicate the time of mailing … nor have I been able to determine exactly where in Marin County the “Tamalpais” post office was located at that time … but the card must have been postmarked close in time and location to the Great Quake.

San Francisco Earthquake "Tamalpais CA" Postcard

San Francisco Earthquake “Tamalpais CA” Postcard

San Francisco Earthquake "Tamalpais CA" Postcard -- Postmarked April 18, 1906

San Francisco Earthquake “Tamalpais CA” Postcard — Postmarked April 18, 1906

I bought the postcard in a lot of Mt. Tamalpais postcards on eBay several years ago and discovered the historic postmark only after they had arrived.


Some interesting facts about the San Francisco earthquake:

The quake is now estimated to have been about 7.8 on the Richter Scale (which had not yet been devised at that time).  Property damage was estimated at $400 million … more than $5 billion in today’s terms when adjusted for inflation … more than 28,000 buildings were destroyed … and more than half of San Francisco’s 400,000 residents were left homeless.

San Francisco Earthquake Ruins

San Francisco Earthquake Ruins

The Valencia St. Hotel had been built on filled land … which liquified during the quake … three of the four floors of the hotel were swallowed up by the ground … with the loss of more than 100 lives.

The Valenda St. Hotel Sank into the Ground

The Valenda St. Hotel Sank into the Ground

Among those killed in the quake was San Francisco’s fire chief, Dennis Sullivan … he was asleep in his room on the third floor of the Engine House adjoining the California Hotel when the quake struck … and toppled the hotel’s brick chimney and dome onto the fire house quarters, causing the 2nd and 3rd floors to collapse onto the ground floor … Sullivan was severely injured and died at the Presidio Hospital on April 22, 1906.

A. P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of Italy, saved his bank’s assets in the aftermath of the quake by moving them out of the city to his home in San Mateo … with public transportation disrupted by the quake, he walked the 17 miles from his home to the bank … hired a wagon to move the bank’s money, gold and other valuables … and later returned to set up shop on the sidewalk in front of the ruined bank building … his bank made millions of dollars in reconstruction loans … and eventually became the Bank of America, one of the biggest in the world.

A. P. Giannini

A. P. Giannini, Founder of Bank of Italy (later Bank of America)

For more information about Giannini and his bank rescue, see:

http://mceer.buffalo.edu/1906_Earthquake/personal_stories/ap-giannini.asp

And for more information about the earthquake, see:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/1906/18april/index.php

http://www.history.com/topics/1906-san-francisco-earthquake

http://mceer.buffalo.edu/1906_Earthquake/additional_information/earthquake-facts.asp

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Running …


… it was 34 years ago today that I began my adult running career … coincidentally, at age 34 … after having not run at all for more than 10 years.

Spent the next five years in heavy training and road racing …  in the process dropping from a high of 183 pounds to 139 … my college wrestling weight! … and often doing major training runs with fellow deputy DA (and later judge) Dave Carter … Superior Court Judge Jim Smith … and my best running friends, DDA Doug Woodsmall & county engineer Al Nestlinger … until I moved to Northern California in 1985…

Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County

Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County

… at which point I got into trail running … mostly on Mt. Tamalpais … and did very little racing.

During the 5 years of frequent racing (1980-85), I managed to run my first sub-5:00 mile since college (4:55.39 in 1984) …

March of Dimes 5K 1st Overall

March of Dimes 5K … 4-29-84 … 16:28 … 1st Overall

… finished 1st overall in a 5K race … The March of Dimes Run for the Gold 5K in 1984 …

… and ran lifetime PRs of 32:59.14 for 10K (in 1985) … 1:14:37.40 for the half-marathon (1983) … 2:40:33 for the marathon (at the 1982 Fiesta Bowl Marathon) … and — also in 1985 — 54:41.8 for a 10 mile run … what I consider my best race ever, averaging 5:28.18 per mile.

Also ran in some interesting races …

The 1983 Boston Marathon -- Finisher's Medal, Pin & Patch

The 1983 Boston Marathon — Finisher’s Medal, Pin & Patch

… including the 1983 Boston Marathon (2:43:05.83 when I died in the last three miles after running sub-6:00 mile pace for the first 23) … a 24 hour track run (covered 75 miles) …the Lake Tahoe 72 Mile Run (dropped out after 43 miles and 6.5 hours, due to a combination of altitude sickness and severe shin splints) …  the Bay to Breakers several times (best time 44:54.69 in 1983) …and finally the Dipsea Race across Mt. Tam from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.

And ran in some other interesting non-race settings …the Humboldt National Forest redwoods in Northern California … Muir Woods National Monument in Marin … Point Reyes National Seashore … the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

The Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

… down & up the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon … down & up the Sandia Peak Trail in New Mexico … around the rim trail of Walnut Canyon National Monument in Arizona ..

Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona

Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona

… and around the Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona … to complete this loop, had to run past signs prohibiting visitors from going any further … sh-h!

And hundreds of runs on Mt. Tamalpais here in Marin … with, at one time or another and with some frequency, sons Doug & Matt, Toby George, Eric Nygren & Tom Hurst … and four-legged friends Cairo, Oski & Nano

Nano on Mt. Tam Trail

Nano on Mt. Tam Trail

… all of whom proved worthy training partners … eventually, I was able to run every trail on the mountain at least once from end-to-end in each direction … all 160 trails covering more than 200 miles … 

Tamalpais Trails by Barry Spitz

… all carefully documented in one of my copies of Barry Spitz’ excellent book, “Tamalpais Trails” (of which I own six copies) … and the origin of my personal email address “RunTam”.

Age, a knee injury and the dysfunction of my thyroid gland eventually put an end to my running career … but I credit the tens of thousands of miles that I’ve run with my relative good health … and, in my mind, I often re-run my favorite Mt. Tam trails … Matt Davis TrailNorthside TrailSouthern Marin Line Fire Road … the Dipsea Trail … and my personal favorite …

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway Patch

… the Old Railroad Grade, once the course up & down the mountain of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway.

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The Piggy Bank 10K, January 27, 1983 --- 10K PR 32;59.14

Piggy Bank 10K … 1-27-85 … 10K PR 32;59.14

Finished 4th Overall & 1st in 35-39 Age Group

4th Overall & 1st in 35-39 Age Group

Age Group Piggy Bank Prize

Age Group Piggy Bank Prize

Collection of Race Pins

Collection of Race Pins

Farewell Gift ON Leaving DA's Office ----- Running Art by DA Investigator R. Skelly

——–  Farewell Gift on Leaving DA’s Office in 1985  ——– Running Art by DA Investigator R. Skelly