San Francisco’s Big Quake-before and after

Last weekend I went to visit my parents in Santa Rosa and on Saturday night we attended an event at the Elk’s Lodge in Rohnert Park, maybe (it was dark and I wasn’t driving.  Or paying attention, I guess).

Anyway, we sat with some of their friends and all night people came up to Dwayne Miles,  one of the gentlemen at our table and congratulated him on his “30 seconds of fame”.  It seems Dwayne’s ancestors supervised the making of a film in San Francisco in 1906, just days before “one of the most significant earthquakes of all time”   and Dwayne and his nephew, Scott Miles, had recently been on 60 Minutes to talk about it.

The tremblor leveled most of San Francisco and fires burning uncontrollably in the aftermath destroyed almost everything else.  The Miles brothers’ office was among the casualties but the Miles brothers had put their film on a train to New York the night before the quake, saving it from almost certain destruction.

I did a Google search and discovered that the Miles brothers/business  also took many photos after the earthquake, too many for me to post here, but definitely worth a look.  

Below are some stills I grabbed from the film, which can be seen on youtube.

(And this is where I thank Peter Jermyn for sending me a link to this film.    I sat at a table with  Dwayne all evening, but completely forgot to ask him how I could watch the video.  Thanks, Peter !)



San Francisco, April 1906


San Francisco, April 1906


This kid was intentionally running in front of the cable car


It is scary to think he might not have survived the earthquake that happened less than a week later.  Notice his buddies holding onto the car on the right…




Incredibly busy streets, even then...


 And so now I do have to include a few of the “after” photos taken by the Miles Brothers and archived here , just so that everyone can grasp the devastation and significance of the stills above… 


8 Responses to San Francisco’s Big Quake-before and after

  1. random guy says:

    fantastic! chaotic order in fluid action! I love all the wobbly wheeled cars and bicycles.

    • Lynette M says:

      Oh, I loved those wobbly wheels ! I was also shocked at how many people came close to being run over during that 7 minutes and wonder how many did get hit by cars and wagons and cable cars…

  2. random guy says:

    …looks like his buddies are holding onto the car at one point, but a little while later like they’re pushing it along. “Hey I’ll give you kids a nickle to help get us downtown!”

    • Lynette M says:

      Maybe. I have this great photo somewhere of a horse drawn wagon pulling a car down the road.

      I was wondering if it was ok w/ the men driving or if they were trying to lose the kids. I remember jumping on to the back of the mail jeep when I was a kid and riding it down the road. Seems stupid now, but it sure was fun then 🙂

  3. laura says:

    Hey Lynette, Thanks for posting this– good story about knowing the descendant, too. I had seen the video a couple of months ago, when it was big on Facebook.

    I notice you used the word “tremblor”– technically, that’s wrong; the word is “temblor.” But i despise the word “temblor” so much, as it is always used in news articles as writers feel compelled not to repeat forms of “earthquake” or “shaker”– it is just a nonsense printed word that is never audibly uttered by a reasonable human being– so much that i am really happy you said “tremblor.” Recover sanity in English! — A grammar curmudgeon, Laura

    • Lynette M says:

      Hey Laura,
      Thanks for the clarification on the word. I will stick with tremblor because big earthquakes make folks “tremble” 🙂

  4. random guy says:

    I just watched this again with volume on, just discovered the soundtrack! Perfect!

  5. […] This doesn’t even look like Eureka (looks more like San Francisco before the big quake). […]

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