1906: San Francisco is destroyed by an earthquake so powerful that it is felt from Coos Bay, Oregon, to Los Angeles, and as far east as central Nevada.
What became known as the San Francisco earthquake and fire struck at 5:12 a.m., when the San Andreas Fault gave way, tearing the earth wide open from Humboldt County, near the Oregon border, to San Benito County, a hundred miles southeast of San Francisco. The epicenter was on the fault line just offshore from the San Francisco–San Mateo county line.The earthquake had a magnitude measuring anywhere from 7.8 to 8.3 — a precise method of measuring seismic activity did not exist in 1906 — but it was enormous by any standard. There have been larger earthquakes recorded in California, but none so near a major population center. And damage was widespread all along the fault line. The town of Santa Rosa, 50 miles north of the Golden Gate, was flattened. Stanford University, in what was later to be named Silicon Valley, suffered severe damage.