April 18, 1906 – “An earthquake shock of remarkable severity visited the entire Mendocino coast” at 5:13 am, according to the Beacon. A rumbling noise preceded the full force of the quake. “So violently did the earth shake that many people were thrown from their beds. Men, women and children fled precipitately from their houses and from the hotels, many of them in their night clothes. Cattle bellowed, chickens cackled and dogs ran under the houses. From the terrific crash that came, with chimneys falling on the roofs, the breaking of glassware, crockery and windows in nearly every house, it appeared that pandemonium held full sway.”

At the Mendocino Lumber Mill on Big River Flat, the ninety-foot-tall million-brick smokestack “came down with a deafening roar,” and the boilers, machine shop, and part of the engine room were buried under tons of brick and mortar. The flywheel on the engine was broken, and the mill was expected to be out of commission for at least two months. Damage was estimated at $5,000.

Hotel building, with left wing detached from the rest of the building

Occidental Hotel, after the earthquake, 1906.

At the Occidental Hotel on the southeast corner of Lansing and Main Streets, the wing containing the dining room, parlor, and kitchen “was raised from its foundation fully six feet to the ground and moved five feet to the South. The chimney and range and other articles of furniture were thrown promiscuously about the room and how any human being could escape being killed is a wonder to all who saw the debris piled upon the floor.” Hotel owner Kate Gorman “had a narrow escape from being killed as a section of the chimney came down through the roof into her room. She was struck by some of the brick and quite painfully injured.” Mendocino Grammar School teacher Callie Coombs “occupied a room near Mrs. Gorman. When the building settled, the door to her room could not be opened and it was necessary to use an ax to break it down before she could get out.”

Damage to the hotel was estimated to be $1500. Kate had the earthquake damage repaired in June, and the Occidental Hotel reopened in July.

1906 Earthquake in Mendocino County – Newspaper accounts and oral history interviews on the great quake. Twenty black and white photos showing local destruction. $15.