The Story of Santa Barbara - The 1925 Earthquake

Santa Barbara earthquake photo

It began the morning of June 29, 1925. Early risers noted their pets and livestock seemed agitated. Then at 6:42 am, the primary shock wave ripped through the city for eighteen seconds. Estimated at 6.3 on the Richter scale, the Great Earthquake claimed thirteen lives. The twin towers of Mission Santa Barbara collapsed, and eighty-five percent of the commercial buildings downtown were destroyed or badly damaged. A failed dam in the foothills released forty-five million gallons of water, and a gas company engineer became a hero when he shut off the city's gas supply, and prevented fires like those that destroyed San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake.

Most of the populace spent the summer sleeping outdoors as aftershocks rolled through the city. Exactly one year later on June 29th 1926, a sharp aftershock claimed one more life when a collapsing chimney killed a small boy. Over the next decade, the city rebuilt and reinvented itself in the process.

santa barbara earthquake photo

» To view a Photo Slideshow of the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake from the collection of the Gledhill Library  « CLICK HERE »

The soundtrack "Santa Barbara Earthquake" that accompanies the photo slideshow was written and recorded by Vernon Dalhart. The song was written within two weeks of the event, and was recorded and released quickly by Columbia and Dalhart to capitalize on the widespread interest in the disaster. Vernon Dalhart was born as Marion Try Slaughter the Second on April 6, 1883 in Jefferson, Texas. He was named after his grandfather, who was a notorious bully and Ku Klux Klan member. The stage name Vernon Dalhart was a combination of two Texas towns where he had once worked as a cowboy. Before recording country songs Dalhart had toured with several opera companies.

santa barbara earthquake photo

» To view dramatic Video Footage of the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake from the collection of the Gledhill Library  « CLICK HERE »

It is unknown who the shot this spectacular video footage of the results of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Santa Barbara on June 29, 1925.

» To view additional Video Footage of the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake from Brittish Pathe click on the links below...

 

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