Tuesday, May 21, 2024

10 Facts about the 1872 Owens Valley Earthquake in California

 by Edwina Kiernan

At 2:30am on March 26, 1872, the sleeping town of Lone Pine, California had a rude awakening. The Owens Valley Earthquake was one of the largest Californian earthquakes in recorded history, in which 27 people were killed and 56 were injured. Here are ten facts I discovered as I researched it for my latest book...

1) The quake was felt as far away as Sacramento and Los Angeles.

2) The Diaz family, who had emigrated from Chile in the 1860s, operated a successful cattle ranch until the earthquake hit. A natural spring filled the quake basin, turning the ranch into a lake, named Diaz Lake to this day.

3) At the time of the earthquake, Mt. Whitney was known as Fisherman's Peak.

4) 27 inhabitants of Lone Pine were killed - more than 10% of its population.

5) The quake generated a fault scarp more than 2m tall, with the ground shifting 5m to the right. The scarp can be followed for more than 40 miles north and south of the epicenter. The ground fissures can be followed for more than 225 miles.

Lone Pine fault scarp

6) The earthquake's estimated magnitude was between 7.4 and 7.9.

7) The interest in seismology that this earthquake sparked led to the formation of the first permanent seismic observatories in the United States.

8) Numerous eyewitness accounts survive to this day, including one from the Scottish naturalist, John Muir. He described the shocks as being so violent and so closely following one another that trying to walk was like trying to balance on a ship tossed at sea. He also had an optimistic outlook during the event - part of his account says: "...Though I had never before enjoyed a storm of this sort, the strange, wild thrilling motion and rumbling could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my cabin, near the Sentinel Rock, both glad and frightened, shouting, "A noble earthquake!" feeling sure I was going to learn something." You can read his full account here.

9) A series of aftershocks continued for months afterwards, causing even more buildings to collapse due to their already weakened structures.

10) A number of the victims are buried in a mass grave. It was registered as a California Historical Landmark in 1953, and a new memorial was established in 1988 on the 116th anniversary of the tragedy.

The original marker of the 1872 Lone Pine Earthquake victim's common grave

1988 memorial, detailing some of the victims' names and nationalities

Did You Know?

My new release, Heart of Integrity, features the Owens Valley / Lone Pine earthquake of 1872. Susan and Ifor have each traveled miles across the world to escape their pasts and build new lives. But when a devastating earthquake throws them into a state of upheaval, long-buried secrets soon shake loose with devastating consequences...

Not all fault lines are hidden in the earth...

Find out more here: EdwinaKiernan.com/integrity

About The Author:

Edwina Kiernan is an award-winning author of Christian Historical Romance. She lives in rainy Ireland with her husband and son, and uses her pen to point people to Jesus - the Living Word. She also drinks more types of tea than most people realize even exist. Find out more at EdwinaKiernan.com, and sign up for her weekly newsletter for lots of fun, fiction, freebies and faith.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. It's so amazing how these events can change a landscape forever!