1872 Lone Pine Earthquake, Cal

Visit Date: October 10, 2015

I can't count the number of times I'd driven by the California Landmark sign on 395, just north of Lone Pine, Cal. without stopping to investigate. It always intrigued me. Finally, it pulled me in and I stopped to see what I could find.

This terrible convulsion occurred on Tuesday, March 26, 1872. The night was calm, the sky clear, the moon just past full. The Sierra Nevada Mountains were covered with snow, which shone like robes of pearly satin in the moonlight. The valley presented as peaceful and secure a scene as eyes ever looked upon, and the great mountains on either side appeared the very embodiment of solidity and stability.

In an instant, without any warning symptoms from the heavens above or the earth beneath, the mountains were swaying like storm-tossed trees and the valley rolled like the sea.....a great rumbling and roaring were heard to come from deep in the earth. At the same instant the ground rolled violently; there was also a twisting motion, and this, together with the heaving and rolling, produced great and instant destruction. Buildings of stone or adobe were reduced to heaps of ruins in a moment.
— Historical Society of Southern California Publication, 1894

To read the full 1894 account, click HERE.

Imagine. 2:30 am, you're asleep in your adobe or stone residence. And one of the largest earthquakes to ever hit California smashes you awake. 52 of the 59 homes in town are immediately destroyed and 27 residents killed. The shaking was felt as far north as Sacramento and as far south as San Diego. Had the Richter Scale existed, the quake would have measured between 7.6 and 8.0 in magnitude. 

Sixteen of the twenty-seven killed were buried in this mass grave, reportedly in fifteen coffins. One coffin held a mother and her infant child.

I don't like earthquakes and I'm glad I've never felt one of this magnitude. I hope I never do.