Many families have stories about the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire that have been passed down to them from their grandparents or parents. Somewhat to our surprise, we've learned that some Bay Area residents (and former residents) also have stories from the 1868 Hayward earthquake that have been passed down to them.
To help us preserve these precious stories and learn more about the 1868 earthquake, please share your stories with us. We will post them on this web page so that others can enjoy them.
Submitted by Anonymous on October 18, 2007
I read with interest the piece in the San Francisco Chronicle in the
internet this morning (10/18) concerning the USGS prediction of damage on
the Hayward Fault. I thought I might pass along the following story which
may be of interest to you.
When I was 7 or 8 years old (I am 84) one day I was talking with my
Grandmother about the earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. She was
born in San Francisco in 1862 so was in her late 60s at the time. She told
me that she thought that the ?06 quake was not as strong as one she
experienced when she was a little girl, undoubtedly referring to the
Hayward earthquake in 1868.
She said that it was in the early morning and she had been swinging on
the gate in front of their house at what is now 908 Treat Avenue San
Francisco. The house was standing by itself in what she described as wheat
fields near the road that ran up from the San Mateo Peninsula and the
railroad that ran nearby. The house had been built by my Great Grandfather
and was on redwood sills. She said that she heard this loud rumble and she
looked east and saw the fields rising up like a big wave and rolling toward
her. She said that the wave passed under their house, raised it up and then
dropped it down. She was frightened of course and ran into the house to my
The house suffered little or no damage and the last time I was in San
Francisco several years ago it was still there (and the gate) and looked in
In 1906 she and my Grandfather lived at 520 Hill Street in San
Francisco on the side of Twin Peaks above what is now the Castro. The house
tilted a little and my Grandfather put a brace between it and the house
next door. My Father used to tell me that at the time of the quake he was
delivering papers a mile or two away on the side of Twin Peaks and he felt
the quake and could look out over the city and see the fires start to break
out. He thought the world was coming to an end he said.