Field Trips by ellin beltz
The 1906 "San Francisco Earthquake" affected towns all along the northern California coast. Some were especially hard hit - including Ferndale.

April 18, 1906 Earthquake - Ferndale, California

Agassiz in the Concrete
A professor allegedly said, "I always thought Agassiz was better in the abstract than in the concrete."

The statue of Louis Agassiz, then America's most famous scientist, fell 50 feet from its pedestal on the Stanford University Zoology Building and embedded itself headfirst in the pavement. Palo Alto is about 294 miles (474 km) south of Ferndale, California; both were devastated in seconds.

Photo courtesy USGS; photographer unknown.
South on Main Street April 18, 1906 about 5:20 a.m.
Click on the picture for a slideshow of 1906 damages

Looking South from approximately 420 Main Street immediately after the earthquake.
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.

USGS researchers propose that the April 18, 1906 earthquake had a magnitude between 7.7 and 7.9, a rupture length of more than 290 miles, and a shaking duration of 45-60 seconds.

This page quotes from The Ferndale Enterprise, a semi-weekly publication, run by "Frost, Briggs and Butler, Proprietors" which ran a series of extras in the weeks around the event as well as The Humboldt Beacon from Fortuna, California. Both accounts were typed in from the original newspapers - both are still being published.

The Ferndale Enterprise
April 20, 1906 -- Terrific Shock of Earthquake

All san-serif bold text has been added to the original newspaper accounts.
Loss in Ferndale Alone Will Reach Into the Thousands, and Heavy Damage is Reported Throughout the County
Lives and Property Lost in San Francisco The City and Nearly all the Coast Towns Visited by the Shake.
Awful Devastation is Left in Its Wake.

A shock of earthquake, unparalleled for severity in the history of this county, visited Humboldt last Wednesday morning at about 5:15 o'clock. The tremblor, in the few seconds during which its force was felt, caused damage which will run up into the thousands of dollars in Ferndale alone, to say nothing of the other points visited by it. To enumerate the property holders throughout this valley who have suffered loss is impossible, as a conservative estimate would place the number of chimneys wrecked as many hundreds.

Ferndale suffered the most, and many of our most solid and substantial buildings have been reduced to almost a wreck.
339 Main, Russ-Early-Williams Store, 1906
339 Main Street
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Peter Palmquist Collection and the Ferndale Museum.
The fine new brick store of the Russ, Early and Williams Co., completed but a few months ago probably presents the sorriest spectacle. The front of this building was completely demolished, the bricks being thrown into the street, while the thick plate glass was reduced to fragments. The walls were also cracked and broken.

339 Main/1906/ left: Grace Roberts Shaw, right: Elizadia Kausen Clement. Rebuilt, the same building lost its glass and brick again in the 1992 earthquake and was replaced with the current Valley Grocery building. The edge of the wrecked Saloon shows behind the bricks, to the right.
339 Main, Russ-Early-Williams Store, 1906 339 Main, Russ-Early-Williams Store, 1906 339 Main, Russ-Early-Williams Store, 1906 339 Main, Russ-Early-Williams Store, 1906
A quartet of views of 339 Main Street
The postcard reads "April 18, 1907. Dear John. A year ago, this was the way things looked. That's I talking with Mrs. Cousin. With much love. B.R." ["B.R." stands for Blanche Roberts]
The three photos on the right believed to be by Edna Garrett; the one on the far left is unattributed.
Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
The store of the J. Gollober Co., formerly the Boynton and Hall place of business, was treated as badly, the bricks from the front covering the sidewalk to a depth of several feet. The sides were shaken down to some extent, and the tower in which hung the fire bell was thrown to the ground.

394 Main Street. Gollober was a discount retailer selling off the stock of a failed business of Boynton and Hall in what was called "the White-Front Store." Note the fire bell tower laying on its side in the photo.
394 Main, White Front Store, 1906
394 Main Street.
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
394 Main, 1906 394 Main, 1906 394 Main, 1906 394 Main, 1906
More views of the White Front Store occupied by a liquidation company of J. Gollober. The sign on the side of the building was for a clearance sale on April 7 and has nothing to do with the earthquake.
Photos believed to be by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum and the Peter Palmquist Collection (far right).
607 Main, The Knights of Pythias Hall, 1906
607 Main Street.
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Peter Palmquist Collection and the Ferndale Museum.
The Knights of Pythias Hall was badly twisted and now has a decided lean to the west, so much so that it was deemed advisable to shore it up to prevent its falling.

607 Main/Pythian Hall was repaired and rebuilt by the Pythians and continued serving as a commercial building with rooms and hall upstairs. This onion-domed delight was demolished in 1926 for a automobile garage which now houses the Ferndale Pizza Company.

Immediately after the earthquake, Duck Brothers furniture company moved out of the Pythian Building to that across the street. Hence the Duck Bros. wagon with the child at the reins awaiting another load.

The top of the tower of the American Hotel shows to the left of the Pythian Castle in the picture at far right below.
607 Main, The Knights of Pythias Hall, 1906 607 Main, Duck Bros. Move Out 1906 607 Main, The Knights of Pythias Hall, 1906 607 Main, The Knights of Pythias Hall, 1906
Four more views of the badly damaged Knights of Pythias Hall at 607 Main Street.
The first three photos believed to be by Edna Garrett; the one on the far right is unattributed. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
The Hart building, occupied by the Milwaukee Saloon, was served in a similar manner, although the damage may be perhaps more easily repaired.

393 Main/1896/ currently Hobart Galleries. The downthrown fire bell tower is in the left foreground, but someone has stood it upright on the sidewalk because in the picture of 394 Main Street (above) it is laying on its side in the street. In general, the large open spaces of the stores resulted in more damages in the first floor than in the floors above where much glass survived. The sign in the left window advertises a lawyer's office. The building to the right (399-405) was torn down and replaced in 1924 with what was called the "new Hart building." The building to the left (385-389) still stands, although its lovely cornices, oriole windows and trim have all been removed.
393 Main, Milwaukee Saloon
393 Main Street.
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
North on Main Street
Looking North on Main Street.
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
The store of J. Loewenthal, next door to this office, 334 Main/The Enterprise's new building was built on the same site in 1923 was wrenched and shaken out of shape, the front now being separated from the wall by a distance of about ten inches. 344 Main/1889/current home of the Emporium.

From the right edge of the picture inwards, the first building on the right is 300 Main, next is the small dark Enterprise building with a projecting sign, then 334 Main, the large white building behind the telegraph pole on the right. Beyond it are the wrecked 394 Main aand the tall, dark bays of Ring's Drugstore. The bell tower is obscured behind the buggy.

First at left are the porches of the Ferndale Hotel, then the Taylor Building with its four peaky window trims, the wrecked brick store (described above), the Donnelley Saloon, The Gilt Edge Hotel, the Milwaukee Saloon, and so on disappearing in the distance. Ms. Garrett was shooting a 4x5" camera which gives so much detail that you can read the signs on original prints at the Museum!
Of the business buildings in Ferndale these are probably the most badly wrecked, but there are but few firms in town whose loss will not amount to hundreds. With hardly an exception every plate glass window in the Cream City was smashed, the stock in the business houses thrown to the floor and broke and the fixtures almost demolished.

The house of Mrs. Kinzel was twisted from its foundation and dropped to the ground, a distance of about three feet, and the porch on the front of the residence torn loose from the structure. 369 Craig The home of I.W. Davis on Church Street 461 Berding was treated in a like manner, and also Lee Cathey's residence 861 Rose Avenue.
369 Craig
Mrs. Kinzel's House, 369 Craig
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
The Russ building, in which is the Ferndale Bank, suffered to the extent of having the large plate glass windows broken and the plaster shaken off. The front was also broken. 400 Ocean/1890/currently the Victorian Inn

The Ageler, Morrison, Hansen Co. sustained quite a heavy loss by the breakage of dishes, etc, and the shaking down of their shelves. The plate glass windows in the building occupied by them, which is the property of A. Berding, were nearly all broken. The loss to the A.M.H. Co. and Mr. Berding will amount to several hundred dollars. 300 Main/1899/ site of the empty service station/1949 across from the present day Victorian Inn and the Ivanhoe. 300 Main shows in the picture "Looking North on Main Street" above.

The millinery store of the Misses Canepa escaped very easily, the only damage done being the breaking of the windows in front. 358 Main called the Brown Building was built in 1884 and moved to a different lot in 1896, finally demolished. The current building was built in 1928.

At J. H. Ring's drug store the stock was quite badly damaged, owing to the smashing of bottles etc. The plate glass in the front of the building was knocked to pieces. 362 Main/1896/still Ring's Drug Store

B.O. Hart suffered to the extent of about $500 in loss of stock. 406 Main at Brown - it was the Mirror Saloon, currently Lentz Department Store, some part of this building was also occupied by Edna Garrett, the photographer. 406 Main is the first building on the left in the picture at the top of this page; the wrecked brick building and bell tower are just to its south. Sullivan and Stevens likewise lost about $150. Tivoli Saloon 424 Main/1891, currently the front part of Nilsen Company. Windows gone and doors broken was about the most serious damage done to Meng's Shoe Store. 430-436 Main/1891, Abraxas Leather still sells shoes! The buildings in which are located the Cream City Restaurant and Mrs. J.A. Dudley's millinery store 476 Main/1891 now Etter's Victorian Glass escaped with the loss of a few windows. But little damage was done to the interior. The structures which replaced the buildings present in 1906 are numbered 444, 452, 460 and 468.

S.H. Paine's building, occupied by Beck's meat market and the Ferndale library, was twisted to some extent, and the plate glass windows were demolished. 484-492 Main/1901/ corner of Main and Washington N.R. Hansen suffered but a slight loss, and the building occupied by him was only damaged to the extent of the smashing of its glass front. 492 Main /1901 now the Little Shop on the Corner and Trudy’s. At Nevens' livery stable the large doors were torn from their hinges, but the loss will be nominal. 580 Main/1901/ corner of Main and Shaw now the Ferndale Art and Cultural Center, Itsy Bitsy Quilt Shop, Ferndale Art Coop, Kinetic Sculpture Museum and more.

F.G. Brelle's building was denuded of glass, with a rather heavy loss. 606 Main, across from the Knights of Pythias, mentioned above, now houses Jackie Jett Jam and the Valley Lumber Annex The American Hotel stood the shock very well, and sustained the loss of but a few windows. 577 Main/torn down for current Red Front Store and Francis Creek Inn The Rochdale harness shop and warehouse windows were destroyed, though with but a small loss of stock in these places. In their store the stock was quite badly scattered and the windows taken out. 561-563 Main/Doe Building/1901/site of Foggy Bottoms yarn shop

In Burrill's candy factory and ice cream parlor the only material loss was the destruction of quite a number of candy jars, with their contents, by being thrown to the floor. 543 Main/1901 currently the Cream City Cafe.

The candy and notion store of M. Eriksen entertained the usual loss of its windows, but the damage to his stock is slight. 505 Main/c.1986-1902 currently Abraxas The fine large store of Kausen and Williams was badly shaken up and not a pane of glass in its front was left intact, while the plastering upstairs was badly injured. Heavy damage was sustained there. 491 Main/1895/ currently the Blacksmith Shop Gallery
At the Red Star Clothing Store run by Taubman and sons, except for the breaking of the windows in the building, which is the property of Hon. George Williams, the loss will not be heavy. 475 Main/ built as the New York Store in 1898 currently the polychrome Gazebo

Lee Taubman's Red Star Store is the first building on the right hand edge of the picture. The next, a dark two story with a second floor porch is Loveland's 455 Main Street, then Alford's Drugstore, the IOOF Hall and so on down the street. The little sign on Loveland's reads "The San Francisco Chronicle," and nestled in the debris is a telephone sign, showing that Ferndale even then was not as isolated as might be imagined. The boys are riding very modern bicycles. This photo was taken the day of the quake, but some time after the others as you can see wheel marks in the street. In the earliest photos, the street is smooth, as if shaken fresh by the quake.
Southwest from 475 Main
Southwest from about 475 Main Street
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
455 Main, Interior
455 Main Street - Interior
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
E.M. Loveland lost a quantity of stock and fixtures. His loss will probably reach about $200, and the front of the building, which is also the property of Mr. Williams, was twisted and the glass broken. The post office windows in the same building are also gone. The interior of the office was damaged slightly.

455 Main/1888/ currently The Blacksmith Shop. The only known interior photograph from 1906 was taken here. Note that someone is under the overturned case picking up small items. 455 Main shows in the photo above - it is the tall building with the boys on bicycles in front.
The windows of Alford's drug store escaped the general breakage, but his loss of stock was heavy. This floor was littered with broken bottles and his loss will probably reach $700. 447 Main/in 1920 Hart built the theater for movies, now the Ferndale Repertory Theatre
The interior of N.P. Petersen's store was about the worst demoralized in town, as the shelving on both sides of the store was shaken down, piling the contents in a confused mass on the floor. In the breaking of dishes and destruction of other goods, Mr. Petersen's loss will run into the hundreds, in fact, $300 is about what he estimates it. The building in which his store is located is the property of Ferndale Lodge, No 220, IOOF, and suffered the loss of its large plate glass windows, as did also the notion store of James Jensen, owned by the same order. 425-431 Main/1875/ currently houses several shops and businesses. I.O.O.F. stands for "International Order of Oddfellows." Like many 19th Century fraternal associations, they kept their rituals so secret that no one today knows what they did! 425-431 Main, I.O.O.F. Hall
425-431 Main, I.O.O.F. hall
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
The Mueller building is minus all its front windows except one, and the Citizens' Furniture Co., which occupies the lower story of the structure, had furniture broken with a loss of about $100. 421 Main/1893/ presently Golden Gait Mercantile Silva Giacomini's saloon escaped with the loss of a few bottles of wet goods and the smashing of the front of the building. 409 Main/1887, currently Poppa Joe's

The Hart building, formerly occupied by the Red Star Clothing House, but now vacant, was badly twisted in front, and the windows and sash torn loose and broken. 399-405 Main/the 1924 building which replaced the old Hart houses the Village Florist and formerly Ferndale Books. In the front of P.M. Canepa's jewelry store, the damage is the loss of windows. Mr. Canepa's stock suffered to some extent, probably not more than $25. The vacant Gilt Edge building lost most of its windows. site of the City Parking Lot

The building owned by D.A. Branstetter, in which are located R.H. Edwards' jewelry store and Reis' barber shop, was stripped of its plate glass windows, but aside from this the damage was small. Mr. Edwards was extremely fortunate, as a number of silver pieces were thrown down on top of his cut glass dishes, but did not break a single article. 385 Main/1894/ currently Aesthetic Designs in the old jewelry store and the Rose Cottage shop in the barber's half

The front of Bartlett's cigar store was badly wrenched and the glass broken out, while in the interior the paper is cracked and torn from the wall. 361 Main/1902 now the Candy Stick Fountain and Grill
353 Main, 1906
353 Main
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum.
M.H. Donnelley was rather a heavy loser, as the large windows of his building were broken and the plaster ruined, while the loss of stock was quite a heavy item.

353 Main/1902/then as now a drinking establishment, currently called the Palace Saloon.

This is a slightly different view of the grocery store than above. Some time has passed since the quake for the grocery has been braced up and their metal sign and bricks pushed out of the street. This view shows the wrecked front of the saloon quite clearly.
In the Taylor building nearly all the plate glass was broken and the paper ruined. One side of the building is occupied by Ed Hopkins, the shoe man, but he sustained no loss. 325-327 Main/1898/ currently J and W Liquors and an accountant's office The Ferndale Hotel building lost considerable plaster and the paper was also injured. 315 Main/1875/ currently the Ivanhoe. A small amount of stock lost was the extent of the damage at the Transient Saloon. 330 Ocean/ modern U.S. Bank Building

The Masonic building 212 Francis/1891 still the Masons was twisted somewhat out of shape and in the lower story of the structure, the plastering was nearly all jarred off the ceilings. To estimate the damage done to the K of P Hall Knights of Pythias/607 Main/demolished now Ferndale Pizza, the Brick Store 339 Main/1906/ demolished after it collapsed again in 1992, rebuilt housing the Valley Grocery, the Hart building 399-405 Main, demolished now Ferndale Repertory Theatre and the Loewenthal building 344 Main/1900/ the Emporium is a task we do not care to undertake, as the injury inflicted must be seen to be appreciated.

Opinions as to the amount of money that must be expended to replace Ferndale and vicinity in the condition it was before the shock will range from $75,000 to $150,000. Probably $100,000 will be about the sum necessary. Of course a great deal of the loss cannot be estimated in money, as the vases, chinaware, etc, broken by the tremblor, were in many cases almost priceless.

Among the heaviest sufferers outside of the business part of the town may be mentioned the Ferndale Catholic Church 546 Berding Street at Washington, where the plastering was injured and costly images broken; the Monroe Cider and Vinegar Co. the 1400 Main Street, Cream City Mall and KHUM in the Old Creamery Building, whose loss will be in the neighborhood of $600; the Ferndale M. E. Church Methodist Episcopal Ocean and Berding Streets, where the pipe organ was partially wrecked; the public school building, where the plaster was torn loose, and the home of W. B. Alford, where two chimneys tore large holes in the roof and ceiling 207 Frances. Nearly every house owner is a loser to the extent of the demolition of his chimney, which in many instances crashed through the shingles to the floor below.

Corner of Washington & Main Street - Photographer Edna Garrett has for sale a number of different views taken on the streets of Ferndale immediately after the heavy earthquake of Wednesday morning in which so many buildings were damaged. Garrett worked from the 406 Main, formerly Cardozo's studio, which currently houses Lentz' Department Store. Thus she was across the street from the Gollober store which collapsed and the bell which was thrown down.
A Miraculous Escape Mrs E B Carr of Ferndale miraculously escaped death Wednesday morning at the time of the fearful earthquake. At the first tremble the lady rushed from her residence only to be caught by the brick from a falling chimney as she passed beneath the eaves of the building. That she was not crushed to death can only be accounted for by the fact that the main portion of the chimney missed her, but she was struck by several of the scattering bricks, and when found a few seconds later by her husband she was lying on the ground and in an almost insensible condition..."

While the house in the photo is unidentified, note that the horseshoe over the door is nailed points down!
Tilted House, 1906
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Peter Palmquist Collection.

Outlying Areas

Collapsed Dock, 1906
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Ferndale Museum and the Peter Palmquist Collection.
The shock was felt throughout the county, though not with the same severity as in this town... taken all in all, Eureka escaped very lightly. The statue on top of the court house dome was bent out of position and left standing at an angle of about 45 degrees. Fortuna likewise escaped without serious damage... Loleta escaped practically uninjured, as did also Scotia. In the northern end of the county the shock was apparently not so severe as it was in this vicinity. At Arcata about 30,000 shingles were precipitated from the wharf into the bay, together with a quantity of lumber, but all was recovered. Considerable loss was also sustained at Samoa, and the mill was closed down for a time.

Petrolia and Mattole

At Petrolia, from accounts received here, the shock must have been even more severe than in Ferndale. Many of the buildings in that section were shaken from their foundations to the ground, among the number being the Walsh house, now used by M. Giacomini as a hotel; the Hart and Johnston store, where the back portion was also twisted loose from the front and where the loss will be heavy; the livery stable and Chas Goff's and Ellis Hunter's places of business, together with many residences.

Cracks in the earth are noticeable in many places. A number of people were injured by falling bricks, etc, among the number being Leslie Gould and wife, Miss Addie Wright and Grandma Goff.

The bridge near Levant Cook's place sunk at one end about 18 or 20 inches. Across the river from Petrolia a huge slide occurred, the mountain side partly going into the water and throwing a dam half way across the stream.

Eel River Valley

The earthquake, as all will agree was the heaviest upheaval ever felt in this valley, and although the town of Ferndale suffered to the greatest extent, different sections of the valley came in for their full share of the shaking up.
At the rear of A. Boyd's residence at Port Kenyon a large field bordering the Salt River was spread open in many places, several acres of the land settling a couple of feet. From its appearance, it would appear that water spurted in large quantities from the ground.

On the north bank of the Salt River at the lower bridge, the land has slid in and cracked for a distance of several hundred feet and to a width of thirty or forty feet. The bridge itself does not seem to have been damaged any and is presumably in as good condition for travel as before the shock.
Cracks opened by the earthquake.
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Peter Palmquist Collection
All along the Salt River, on either side, but more especially on the south side, fissures can be noticed, and in some instances of several feet in width, and we are told by those who have tried probing the gaps that they appear to be practically bottomless.

On Old River, near the Smith Filmier and old Dudley lanes, the land cracked and sank badly, while a twenty or thirty acre field on the McDonough place on the Island, leased by Messrs Fredson and Mason, is reported to have been lowered at least a couple of feet.

Cock Robin Island came in for its share of the shake, chimneys being torn down and many holes and cracks in the ground made. The same destruction visited Cannibal Island, it being said that the land there that was quite high before the shake-up is now lowered from one to ten feet, while low places have been filled up. In many instances where the ground opened a kind of black sand or sediment oozed forth, showing that it must have been thrown from the very bowels of the earth. On the Hamner ranch on the Island, under lease to Rasmus Nielsen, we are told that this sand or sediment was very warm and that smoke arose from it for several hours after the convulsion.

The principal damage throughout the county will be to chimneys, it being a save estimate that not one in every fifty in the valley withstood the shock. The dwellings themselves were also wrenched and racked, but aside from the two residences already mentioned in this article we have not learned of any home that was fully demolished. The county water tanks and windmills along the roads, as well as those belonging to private parties, were thrown from their foundations and wrecked.
The Landslide on the Beach
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Peter Palmquist Collection
At the Woodland Echo dairy ranch, just this side of Oil creek on the Centerville beach, a large mountain slid into the ocean and now extends into the water for a distance of probably a half mile completely obstructing the view of the Cape Mendocino and Table Bluff lights which before the upheaval were plainly visible to each station. On this mountain at the time of the quake were four or five head of cattle, and they are reported to have been wiped out of existence. The road leading from the Woodland Echo ranch to Ferndale has been completely obliterated near the slide.

Other outlying areas

Briceland and Garberville are reported as having suffered a heavy loss. The earthquake at these points was fully as heavy as in Ferndale.

A great deal of damage was done at Fields Landing by the collapsing of the wharf.

Several lighter shocks of earthquake were felt during Wednesday and Wednesday night, but these caused no damage. They were, however, the means of keeping alive a feeling of uneasiness and creating the feeling that perhaps another heavy shake might occur.

From the Outside

European seismic trace of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, from Lawson 1906From San Francisco and other coast cities come reports of a fearful loss of life and property. It has been a difficult matter to get news from the outside world, as the telephone and telegraph wires have been prostrated. The first news of the disaster outside of the county was brought by the steamer Kilburn... The Examiner, Call and Chronicle buildings, all in the neighborhood of 15 stories high, are completely wrecked. The land on the south side of Market Street has sunk from four to ten feet. Fire is completely devastating the entire city, having burned from the ferry building to the Western Addition, and is not yet under control. Kearney Street and surrounding land has sunk four feet. The fire department is unable to cope with the flames, as the water pipes throughout the city have been broken and no water can be secured to work the engines. Fire tugs on the bay are trying to quell the conflagration. The estimated loss of life in San Francisco is estimated at 10,000, and with the suburbs and nearby cities will approach 20,000. The Cliff House has fallen into the ocean. This last report was at first discredited, but our latest dispatches confirm the truth of the statement. The Federal troops have been ordered out and martial law is declared. No one is allowed to enter the city and no ferry boats are in operation. Governor Pardee declared yesterday a legal holiday as a day of mourning. General Funston is in command of the Federal troops and has ordered tents and rations for 60,000 homeless people. Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley suffered enormously, and the lives lost and property destroyed cannot be estimated. A dispatch received states that the portion of Berkeley not shaken down by the earthquake is being destroyed by fire. At San Jose 60 people were killed, and a large loss of life is reported from Santa Rosa.

The Suisun marsh has sunk for a distance of five miles. Much of San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley is under water...

At Willits, the Bukney Hotel fell and the proprietor, C.D. Taylor, was killed. At Mendocino City the large lumber mill was completely wrecked. Two blocks of the business portion of Fort Bragg were burned. The Lick House, City Hall, Palace Hotel and nearly all the large buildings of San Francisco are wrecked. The estimated loss of property in that city is placed at $140,000,000.

Three miles of railroad have sunk from sight between Suisun and Benicia. The Western Union Telegraph Office has been destroyed which makes it very difficult to get communication with the city, all messages having to be carried outside. At Agnews, near San Jose, the State Insane Hospital is destroyed and many of the inmates were killed. The steamers Eureka and Pomona were due at Eureka from San Francisco yesterday, but up to last evening nothing had been heard from them. It is supposed they must have met with disaster, or perhaps are being used to assist in the work requiring the use of vessels in clearing up the waterfront of the city. All the reports from the north are to the effect that the shock was only slightly felt.

Many people left Eureka afternoon on the steamers Kilburn and Ravalli for San Francisco to investigate the reports of the enormous loss of life and property caused by Wednesday morning's earthquake in that city.

The Ferndale Enterprise

Tuesday, April 24, 1906 -- And Still the Earth Trembles

Heavy Shock Felt Shortly After One O'Clock Yesterday Morning, Followed by Lighter Trembles at 3 and 6 A.M. Very Little Damage.

News of loss of life in San Francisco greatly exaggerated, says later news... Ferndale and valleyites had hoped that the big quake of Wednesday morning would be the last of any consequence to visit us, but in this they were disappointed, as shortly after one o'clock yesterday morning another tremblor of not a little violence awakened our people in a decidedly hurried manner. Hardly was the shock at an end before many of the residents of Ferndale were on our streets in an endeavor to ascertain if any great amount of damage had been sustained..." They found that chimneys put up since the last quake were again knocked down, clocks stopped, bric-a-brac broken and so on. Reports from Petrolia and outer areas stated about the same. Anyone who had fixed things or picked them up without waiting for all the aftershocks lost again.

A particularly interesting item read: "The earthquake occurring shortly after one o'clock Monday morning, presumably caused a leak in the supply pipe which feeds the big reservoir of the Francis Water Works in town. Manager Francis discovered the leak early Monday morning and lost no time in repairing the break. D.A. is having his hands full looking after his system and is determined that our town shall not be shut off from its water supply if he can prevent it."

The Ferndale Enterprise

Saturday, April 27, 1906

Sterle Abbot and Supervisor Hindley "were at the Hindley place during the earthquake last week and tell us that the shock was the heaviest by far that ever visited southwestern Humboldt. Houses were thrown from their foundations and large cracks made in the ground, in some instances the gaps being large enough to bury a horse in the cavities.

The roads from Petrolia to the Briceland section, says Mr. Hindley, were badly cracked, while slides resulted that will cause no end of trouble when the wet weather comes again. The big steel bridge across the Mattole River south of Petrolia was not damaged by the quake, but the bridge spanning the North Fork near the town was given a shaking up that has left its mark on the structure. The new bridge across Cook's Gulch was also damaged, but not enough to top travel or to make it dangerous for vehicles. The house occupied by Elihu Lindley at Upper Mattole was thrown from its blocks by the big tremblor, while the shake of Monday morning damaged the building so greatly that it was practically unsafe. The dwelling of R.M. Holman and mother was also twisted and torn, but not a house in Upper Mattole escaped damage, and the fact they were not completely wrecked seems a matter of wonder.

At Petrolia the shake-up was equally severe. Every tombstone in the cemetery there, with the exception of one was thrown to the ground and broken. The Mrs. Benton house there, in which Teacher Leslie Gould and wife took up their residence but a week or so ago, was dropped a distance of about nine feet at the rear... The dwelling on the Russ ranch near town, occupied by William Lytel and family, a new and substantially built house, was thrown from its blocks to the ground, a matter of four or five feet."

Another section reported on the food, materials, clothes and supplies donated by Ferndale and residents of the Eel Valley to the people of San Francisco.

Later reports from The Ferndale Enterprise

  • May 1, 1906
    • Joseph Steeves and Will Flowers, with their crew, have commenced the work of placing the building of Mrs. C. Kinzel of Ferndale on a new foundation. The recent earthquake threw the structure from its blocks.
    • By Saturday's Alliance arriving at Eureka, J.B. Davis of Norway, Oregon, was a passenger, and came out to Ferndale - his old home - that evening. Mr. Davis expects to remain in the Cream City for several weeks, and while here will assist his son, I.W., in repairing the damage to the latter's residence on Church Street, so badly wrecked by the big earthquake of a couple of weeks ago. 461 Berding Street
  • May 11, 1906
    Repairs to the damaged rooms in the Russ building, occupied by the Ferndale Bank, and resulting from the big earthquake, are being made. Plasterers from Eureka arrived in Ferndale yesterday and will soon have the rooms in as good condition as before the quake. A director's room is also being added, and will be secured from the large room now occupied by W.H. Robarts. Today's Victorian Inn
  • June 22, 1906
    Carpenters Fitzell and Smith have been at work this week bracing up and repairing the building occupied by the drug store of J.H. Ring, which was somewhat damaged by the earthquake. When the braces and other improvements are completed the building will be stronger than before the shake. Ring's Drug Store
  • January 29, 1907
    Carpenters Fred Johnson and Chris Hansen are employed in strengthening the belfry to the Ferndale Catholic Church, which was quite severely wrenched by last April's earthquake. The work will require about a week or ten days. 546 Berding Street at Washington
  • November 2, 1909
    At 10:50 o'clock last Thursday night this town was visited by the hardest earthquake in the memory of our people, with the exception of the memorable one of 1906. And in some parts of the valley this quake was felt with a greater degree of severity than was the other. In general, however, while an unusually heavy and...In the Brelle building, occupied in part by the Ferndale Library, several large panes of glass in front were broken. Today's Classical Revival Carnegie Library was built in 1910 so this was a different place, perhaps 476 Main, currently the frame store.
  • February 11, 1910
    The old brick building formerly occupied by the White Front store and which was badly wrecked by the earthquake of 1906, is to be torn down and already the work has been commenced. J.A. Swett has been given the contract by the owners - the Ferndale Bank and Mrs. E.J. Etter. Mr. Swett expects to have the structure razed by April. It will be remembered that the corner half of this property was bought some time ago by the Ferndale Bank from Mrs. Etter, who still owns the remainder of the lot. It is presumed the Bank people are to erect a building the coming summer, though President Putnam stated yesterday that nothing definite had been decided in the matter. The tearing down of the old brick building is a good move, as aside from being an eyesore it is a menace to life, being so badly cracked and broken that portions of the walls are liable to fall at almost any time. Gollober Building/Boynton and Hall/ now the NVB Bank
  • December 21, 1909
    Messrs. Swett and Wilson are making a decided change in the appearance of the old White Front building, which they are tearing down. Wednesday the front was pulled down with the aid of a team and there now remain but a portion of the three walls. The old building will soon be but a thing of the past. A decided improvement in the appearance of the town will be noted when the structure is out of the way. Gollober Building/Boynton and Hall/ now the NVB Bank

The Beacon
April 20 and April 27, 1906

The Beacon - April 20, 1906

As we go to press the sad news is received that the earthquake has wrecked San Francisco from the waterfront to Golden Gate Park. Also that the city's fire apparatus is disabled so that the town is at the mercy of the flames. No details are given but rumors of awful disaster have been all day. It is possible that a tidal wave has rolled direct from the Pacific south of the Cliff House and razed the homes that side the hill. There is hope in the usual exaggeration that accompany disasters, but the local experience leads us to believe that truth when known will be sad with human suffering.

And the earthquake struck us too. There was no doubt of the time on Wednesday morning for most of the clocks on duty in Fortuna refused to serve after the rough house of 30 seconds beginning at 5:10. People were just through with the night's rest when it came and then everybody rose early.

A roar and then successive shocks east and west tested the workmanship of every structure in the county. Chimneys were shaken and the flying bricks damaged roofs and filled house wives with dismay. Furniture was dislodged. Even the heaviest pianos and bureaus found new spots to rest in. Dishes and bric-a-brac and many a dainty souvenir had to be gathered in a dustpan. The stock of preserves suffered much and there was a shortage of cream in town. Eggs found an earlier end in earthquake omelet than any hen ever dreamed of. Flour and sugar, salt, butter - all the family stores were sometimes discovered in a distressing mixture as the result of the thirty seconds spasm of mother earth.

If earthquakes must come perhaps it is better that they came as this did. Had it taken place later when fires were in every home big losses by burning could hardly be avoided. Had the public schools of the county been in session injuries and deaths through panic must have followed. In Newburg and Scotia and wherever lumber was piled, there must have resulted many serious accidents had the men been at work.

As it was enough damage was done among our business houses and at the hotels. The Star is perhaps the biggest sufferer in town. In the bar bottled goods and glasses were wrecked. Throughout the house carpets were spoiled by the breakage of emergency oil lamps kept in most rooms. Furniture was damaged, toilet sets smashed quite generally and windows are gone. To add to the trouble within a few minutes after the shock a fire broke out in the kitchen and an alarm was raised. Fortunately it was put out before getting headway. As it is Mr. Kramer estimates the losses at $1000.

The Lane House, in common with most lost its brick chimneys, a few windows, crockery, and damage to carpets - about $150.

Our druggists were hit very hard. Mr. Heinrici estimates that the tremor will cost the Skinner Duprey Co. $250, and Mr. Bowman sees $300 aglimmering in his store. The jewelers were fortunate. A crack in Sam Dickson's window frame and a few damaged clocks in H.W. Schueler's store which $5 will cover leaves both in a thankful mood.

In the homes of Fortuna few have escaped greater or less loss in crockery, furniture and stores.

Both telephone and light and power companies were handicapped by dislodged wires - the amount of damages cannot be given at this time.

All told the losses in the county will reach $200,000. Of this Ferndale has more than its share as the Russ building, the K. of P. Hall, the Boynton and Hall store and others have suffered severely.

Rumors on the street today report an awful disaster all over the coast. San Francisco, San Jose and other points are reported damaged to the extent of millions and many hundreds of lives were ended. No verification of these stories can be had at this time as the steamer has not arrived and the wires are down.

The Beacon, April 27, 1906

Little by little we are learning the details of Wednesday's damage hereabouts.

At Newburg fallen piles of lumber will mean a loss for labor of $250, though not much has been damaged or destroyed.

Scotia's hotel was put out of commission for several meals. The guests and visitors were accommodated at the cookhouse. Here too, the yard was strewn with wrecked lumber piles and the company will need a couple of weeks to restore things as they were.

All sorts of explanation are forthcoming for the flashes seen about 5:15 a.m. Wednesday - the time of the shock. Ignius fatuus, meteors, crossed electric wires, lightning and others more or less ingenious but none of them conclusive. The Beacon is open for an explanation that will explain.

Druggist Luther of Alton had the biggest damage among the stores of our little neighbor. About $100 will fix him again. The earthquake certainly was hard on the medicine men.

Ferndale has become a shrine for sight seers. Quite a number of our people went over Sunday to see the work of the earthquake. Few homes and fewer stores escaped - many of them are seriously damaged.

Hydesville's quake

We were shaked up a week ago Wednesday morning as well as the rest of the people but no great amount of damage was done, except the toppling over of chimneys. The stores suffered the breakage of glass ware and crockery. The general impression is we got off lucky.

The worst damage probably was the shaking of Johnnie Rouse's new house several inches out of plumb. The boiler in William's mill was cracked and a lay off for a day was necessary in order to get it fixed. Two crevices in the earth, each about six inches wide, opened a short distance from Mr. Rouse's house.

Parties who have friends below are very much worried. A number from here have gone to Eureka so as to get information from the people who come off the steamer, as this is the only way they can hear from their friends.

A collection was taken up here which consists of clothing and provisions to be sent to San Francisco.

The shake Sunday night frightened many of the timid ones as they expected a repetition of the first. It lasted several seconds but was not violent.

The public schools were closed this week as the chimneys of the school house were considered unsafe.

Loleta's quake

The earthquake a week ago Wednesday morning was by far the heaviest ever experienced here. Nearly every brick chimney in town went down and windows were broken. The Loleta hotel moved several inches. The cook started to run out of the kitchen when the dishes began falling and as she got outside the chimney fell and several bricks struck one of her arms and shoulder. She had a very narrow escape. The chimneys on both school houses went down. A high water tank back of Bertsch's livery stable fell down and was smashed, the two large tanks near there sprang a leak, as several of those heavy steel hoops parted.

Joe Moranda's house fell down and the inmates were let out through chopping a hole in the building by the milkers who were outside. One of the children was hurt by a falling stove.
In the Cannibal Island section the earth cracked open in several places and black sand, water and foam are covering a large area on the Fitzsimmons and O'Leary places. Several of the crevices in the earth are from three to eight feet wide and look to be of considerable depth. On Bertsch's place and the Roper place the ground is raised at some points three to four feet and in some places lowered about the same. The old slough on the Roper place was raised till [sic] it is about level with the rest of the land, and a small house standing near is raised up on the end nearest the slough.

The river bar back of the Indian camp [Camp Weott?] has raised till [sic] it is level with the land. The large water tank at the White Star creamery went down and the creamery had to cease operations. Several windmills and tanks were badly damaged in that neighborhood.
broken windmill
A Broken Windmill
Photo by Edna Garrett. Courtesy of the Peter Palmquist Collection
Acknowledgements: A set of The Enterprise is maintained by the Ferndale Museum whose gracious assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Ann Roberts, Beverly Kukuk, Lori Dengler and publications provided details about the date of construction, current street address or subsequent disposition of the property. Efforts to locate some individual buildings and photo locations continues. This page would not be what it is without:
  • Denis Edeline and for leads to the later Enterprise entries;
  • Lori Dengler of Humboldt State University for her continued interest and support as well as permission to use photographs from the Palmquist Collection for this site;
  • Jack Boatwright of the USGS for being interested in this work at its inception and checking all those tombstones to see what the effect of this monster was all up and down the coast;
  • Beverly Kukuk for annotating the newspaper article with current addresses;
  • Ann and Richard Roberts for their never-ending researches on the history of Ferndale; and
  • Edna Garrett and the unnamed writer of the newspaper story for being there and recording what they saw for posterity.


From this site



Lawson, Andrew C., The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906. Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1908. Pub. no. 87, vol. I, pp. 451. Reprinted 1969.


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