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[TIMELINE] San Francisco Earthquake (Timeline)

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  • madchinaman
    Timeline of the San Francisco Earthquake April 18 - 23, 1906 This timeline is excerpted from Gladys Hansen s Chronology of the Great Earthquake, and the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 19, 2005
      Timeline of the San Francisco Earthquake
      April 18 - 23, 1906
      This timeline is excerpted from Gladys Hansen's "Chronology of the
      Great Earthquake, and the 1906-1907 Graft Investigations."

      April 18, 1906
      San Francisco was wrecked by a Great Earthquake at 5:13 a.m., and
      then destroyed by the seventh Great Fire that burned for four days.
      Hundreds, perhaps thousands of trapped persons died when South-of-
      Market tenements collapsed as the ground liquefied beneath them.
      Most of those buildings immediately caught fire, and trapped victims
      could not be rescued. Reevaluation of the 1906 data, during the
      1980s, placed the total earthquake death toll at more than 3,000
      from all causes. Damage was estimated at $500,000,000 in 1906

      Fire Chief Engineer Dennis T. Sullivan was mortally wounded when the
      dome of the California Theatre and hotel crashed through the fire
      station in which he was living at 410-412 Bush St. Acting Chief
      Engineer John Dougherty commanded fire operations.

      The earthquake shock was felt from Coos Bay, Oregon, to Los Angeles,
      and as far east as central Nevada, an area of about 375,000 square
      miles, approximately half of which was in the Pacific Ocean. The
      region of destructive effect extended from the southern part of
      Fresno County to Eureka, about 400 miles, and for a distance of 25
      to 30 miles on either side of the fault zone. The distribution of
      intensity within the region of destruction was uneven. Of course,
      all structures standing on or crossing the rift were destroyed or
      badly damaged. Many trees standing near the fault were either
      uprooted or broken off. Perhaps the most marked destruction of trees
      was near Loma Prieta in Santa Cruz County, where, according to Dr.
      John C. Branner of Stanford University, "The forest looked as though
      a swath had been cut through it two hundred feet in width." In
      little less than a mile he counted 345 earthquake cracks running in
      all directions.

      U.S. Post Office at Seventh and Mission sts. was dreadfully damaged
      by the earthquake. Assistant to the Postmaster Burke said, "walls
      had been thrown into the middle of various rooms, destroying
      furniture and covering everything with dust. In the main corridors
      the marble was split and cracked, while the mosaics were shattered
      and had come rattling down upon the floor. Chandeliers were rent and
      twisted by falling arches and ceilings."

      Fireman James O'Neill, drawing water for the horses in Fire Station
      No. 4 on Howard Street opposite Hawthorne, was killed when a wall of
      the American Hotel collapsed onto the fire station.

      Police officer Max Fenner was mortally wounded when a wall collapsed
      upon him at 138 Mason Street.

      All telephone and telegraph communications stopped within the city,
      although some commercial telegraph circuits to New York and to
      India, via the Pacific cable at the Ocean Beach, remained in
      temporary operation.

      A messenger arrived at Ft. Mason at 6:30 a.m. with orders from Gen.
      Funston to send all available troops to report to the mayor at the
      Hall of Justice.

      First army troops from Fort Mason reported to Mayor Schmitz at the
      Hall of Justice around 7 a.m.

      At 8 a.m., the 10th, 29th, 38th, 66th, 67th, 70th and 105th
      Companies of Coast Artillery, Troops I and K of the 14th Cavalry and
      the First, Ninth and 24th Batteries of Field Artillery arrived
      Downtown to take up patrol.

      Seventy-five soldiers from Companies C and D, Engineer Corps were
      assigned to the Financial District at 8 a.m., and another 75 along
      Market from Third Street to the City Hall at Grove and Larkin

      A major aftershock struck at 8:14 a.m., and caused the collapse of
      many damaged buildings. There was much panic.

      Second day session of the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons of
      the state of California fifty-second annual convocation. The group
      met after the earthquake but evacuated before the temple at
      Montgomery and Post streets was destroyed by fire. The Masons listed
      the date as April 18, A.I. 2436, A.D.

      At 10 a.m. Headquarters and First Battalion 22nd Infantry, were
      brought from Ft. McDowell by boat, and were held for a time in
      reserve at O'Farrell St. They were later utilized as patrols and to
      assist the fire department.

      At about 10:05 a.m. the DeForest Wireless Telegraph Station at San
      Diego radioed press reports of the disaster at San Francisco to
      the "U.S.S. Chicago." Admiral Caspar Goodrich immediately ordered
      fires started under all boilers, and after a confirmation message
      from the Mayor of San Diego, the "Chicago" steamed at full speed for
      San Francisco. It was the first time wireless telegraphy was used in
      a major natural disaster.

      At 10:30 a.m., the "U.S.S. Preble" from Mare Island, under the
      command of Lt. Frederick Newton Freeman, landed a hospital shore
      party at the foot of Howard St. to help the wounded and dying who
      sought help at Harbor Emergency Hospital.

      Another fire broke out at 395 Hayes St. on the southwest corner of
      Hayes and Gough. It would become known as the "Ham and Egg" fire,
      and would destroy part of the Western Addition, the Mechanics'
      Pavilion, City Hall and then jump Market Street at Ninth.

      General Funston's staff abandoned the Dept. of California's
      Headquarters in the Phelan Building, across from the Palace Hotel,
      at 11 a.m. They did manage to save valuable records.

      Winchester Hotel caught fire at Third and Stevenson streets and
      collapsed at 11 a.m.

      Fort Miley troops, the 25th and 64th Companies Coast Artillery,
      arrived at 11:30 a.m.

      Two earthquake in Los Angeles just before noon, about ten minutes
      apart. The quaking began as crowds gathered around bulletin boards
      to read the latest telegraphic dispatches from San Francisco.
      Thousands ran in panic when the earthquakes struck.

      Hearst Building at Third and Market streets caught fire at noon.

      Evacuation of the injured from Mechanics' Pavilion, Grove and
      Larkin, began at noon because of the spreading "Ham and Egg" fire.
      The wounded were taken to Golden Gate Park, Children's Hospital and
      the Presidio.

      Mechanics' Pavilion took fire at 1 p.m.

      St. Mary's Hospital at First and Bryant sts. was abandoned to the
      fire at 1 p.m. Patients were loaded aboard the ferryboat "Modoc" and
      taken to Oakland.
      Entire area in the Financial District, behind the Hall of Justice,
      was on fire by 1 p.m.

      Fires so threatened the Portsmouth Square area by 1 p.m. that
      General Manager Hewitt of the Dept. of Electricity decided to
      abandon the Central Fire Alarm Station at 15 Brenham Place in

      Restaurant atop the Call, or Claus Spreckels Building, at Third and
      Market streets, took fire at 2 p.m.

      Postal Telegraph operators transmitted their last message to the
      outside world as army troops ordered them from the building at 534
      Market St., opposite Second St., at 2:20 p.m. because of the
      approaching fire.

      Latest casualty count: 750 people seriously injured people were
      being treated at various hospitals at 2:30 p.m.

      Dynamiting of buildings around the U.S. Mint at Fifth and Mission
      streets began at 2:30 p.m.

      U.S. Army Signal Corps established Ferry Building telegraph
      operations at 3 p.m.

      Mayor Schmitz appointed the Committee of Fifty at 3 p.m. at the Hall
      of Justice. The mayor also said:

      "Let it be given out that three men have already been shot down
      without mercy for looting. Let it also be understood that the order
      has been given to all soldiers and policemen to do likewise without
      hesitation in the cases of any and all miscreants who may seek to
      take advantage of the city's awful misfortune."
      The Mayor appointed ex-Mayor James Phelan to head the Relief

      Fifty or more corpses had been buried by the police in Portsmouth
      Square by 5 p.m because the morgue and police pistol range could
      hold no more bodies.

      Mayor Schmitz, at 8 p.m., was still confident that a good part of
      downtown could be saved. Unfortunately a possible arsonist set fire
      to the Delmonico Restaurant in the Alcazar Theatre Building on
      O'Farrell near Stockton, and that blaze burned into Downtown and to
      Nob Hill.

      War Department received a telegram from Gen. Funston at 8:40 p.m.,
      Pacific Coast time, that asked for thousands of tents and all
      available rations. Funston placed the death toll at 1000.

      Firefighters attempted to make a stand at 9 p.m. along Powell St.
      between Sutter and Pine, but it was unsuccessful in keeping the fire
      from sweeping up Nob Hill.

      Crocker- Woolworth Bank Building at Post and Market took fire at 9

      April 19, 1906
      Governor Pardee arrived in Oakland at 2 a.m. He was supposed to
      arrive three hours earlier, but his train was stalled because of
      sinking of the track in the Susuin marshes. The governor said he
      would declare a bank holiday today.
      St. Francis Hotel at Union Square caught fire at 2:30 a.m.

      Mayor Schmitz and Capt. Thomas Magner of Engine No. 3 found a
      cistern at the Hopkins Mansion, Mason and California streets, at 4
      a.m., and attempted to keep the fire from burning the structure.
      They were not successful.

      Secretary of War Taft at 4 a.m. ordered 200,000 rations sent to San
      Francisco from the Vancouver Barracks.

      Secretary Taft ordered all hospital, wall and conical tents sent to
      San Francisco from army posts at Vancouver; Forts Douglas, Logan,
      Snelling, Sheridan and Russell, from San Antonio and the Presidio of

      Secretary Taft wired Gen. Funston at 4:55 a.m. that all tents in the
      U.S. Army were en route to San Francisco.

      "Call," "Chronicle" and "Examiner" printed a combined newspaper
      today on the presses of the "Oakland Herald."

      176 prisoners moved from city prison to Alcatraz.

      "U.S.S. Chicago" arrived in San Francisco Bay at 6 p.m.

      The Great Fire reached Van Ness Avenue during the evening. The army
      dynamited mansions along the street in an attempt to build a fire
      break. Demolition to stop the fire was ordered by Colonel Charles
      Morris of the Artillery Corps.

      April 20, 1906
      The fire burned as far as Franklin St. by 5 a.m., then attempted to
      circle south.

      At the foot of Van Ness Avenue, 16 enlisted men and two officers
      from the "U.S.S. Chicago" supervised the rescue of 20,000 refugees
      fleeing the Great Fire. It was the largest evacuation by sea in
      history, and probably as large as the evacuation of Dunkirk during
      World War II.

      Fire approached the Appraisers' Building for a second time at 3 p.m.
      Lt. Freeman attempted to pump saltwater from the Bay but found that
      his hose connections would not fit those of the Fire Department, so
      the effort was abandoned.

      Gen. Funston issued General Orders No. 37 which placed Lt. Col.
      George Torney of the Medical Department in full control of
      sanitation in San Francisco.

      Gen. Funston wired War Department at 8:30 p.m. on status of the
      fire. He advised that Fort Mason has been saved, and some looters
      have been shot. His telegram said most casualties are in the poorer
      districts, South of Market St.; not many killed in better portion of
      the city.

      April 21, 1906
      Haig Patigian's statue of President McKinley, commissioned for the
      city of Arcata, found in the rubble of a local foundry and saved by
      several artisans who carried it into the street.

      The fire that swept the Mission District was stopped at 20th and
      Dolores sts. by three- thousand volunteers and a few firemen who
      fought the blaze with knapsacks, brooms and a little water from an
      operating hydrant at 20th and Church.

      April 22, 1906
      Fire Chief Engineer Dennis T. Sullivan died at the Army General
      Hospital at the Presidio at 1 a.m.
      Father Ricard at the University of Santa Clara wrote to the "San
      Jose Mercury":

      The earthquake period is gone. Once the pent up forces of nature
      have had a vent, nothing of a serious nature need be apprehended. At
      the most a succession of minor shocks may be felt and that's all. It
      is not unreasonable, therefore, for people to continue in dread of a
      new destructive temblor. People should fearlessly go to work and
      repair mischief done and sleep quietly at night anywhere at all,
      especially in wooden frame. Never mind foreboders of evil: they do
      not know what they are talking about. Seismonetry is in its infancy
      and those therefore who venture out with predictions of future
      earthquakes when the main shock has taken place ought to be arrested
      as disturbers of the peace.

      Major-General Adolphus W. Greely, Commander of the army's Pacific
      Division returned to San Francisco.

      United Railroad crews began stringing temporary overhead trolley
      wires on Market St., but did not repair the cable traction system in
      the street.

      April 23, 1906
      Governor Pardee told a newspaper reporter, "The work of rebuilding
      San Francisco has commenced, and I expect to see the great
      metropolis replaced on a much grander scale than ever before."
      Imperial decree on the 30th Day of the Third Moon from Empress
      Dowager of China to send 100,000 taels as a personal contribution to
      the relief of the San Francisco sufferers. President Theodore
      Roosevelt declined the offer, as well as donations from other
      foreign governments.
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