Historic Earthquakes

Santa Cruz Mountains, California
1865 10 08 20:46 UTC
Magnitude 6.5
Intensity VIII

This strong earthquake caused severe damage in several towns, including New Almaden, Petaluma, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. Property loss was estimated at $500,000.

The shock knocked several houses off foundations at New Almaden and almost destroyed a large brick storehouse. At San Francisco, several poorly constructed buildings on made land were destroyed, the City Hall was ruined, and water pipes and gas pipes were broken; a crack about 2.5 centimeters wide formed in Howard Street. On the marshly lands in the Howard Street area, the ground heaved in some places and sank in others.

Almost all buildings in Santa Clara and Petaluma were affected to some extent, and every brick building was wrecked at Santa Cruz. The walls of the jail and church fell at San Jose, and several chimneys were knocked down. At Watsonville, the earth cracked in several places, and water flowed through the cracks. Ground cracks also were reported near the San Andreas fault at Mountain Charlie's on the Santa Cruz Road. The tide at Santa Cruz was affected.

This earthquake caused damage from the San Juan Bautista on the south to Napa on the north. Aftershocks were reported in several towns.

Abridged from Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1993.