The San Francisco Calamity
Part 3 out of 7
"When the gates were opened the mad rush began. All were swept
aboard in an irresistible tide. We were jammed on the deck like
sardines in a box. No one cared. At last the boat pulled out.
Men and women were still jumping for it, only to fall into the
water and probably drown."
The members of the Metropolitan Opera Company, of New York, were in
San Francisco at this time, and nearly all of these famous singers,
known all over the world, suffered from the great disaster.
All of the splendid scenery, stage fittings, costumes and musical
instruments were lost in the fire, which destroyed the Grand Opera
House, where the season had just opened to splendid audiences.
Many of the operatic stars have given very interesting accounts of
their experiences. Signor Caruso, the famous tenor and one of the
principals of the company, had one of the most thrilling
experiences. He and Signor Rossi, a favorite basso, and his
inseparable companion, had a suite on the seventh floor and were
awakened by the terrific shaking of the building. The shock nearly
threw Caruso out of bed. He said:
"I threw open the window, and I think I let out the grandest notes
I ever hit in all my life. I do not know why I did this. I
presume I was too excited to do anything else.
GREAT SINGERS ESCAPE.
"Looking out of the window, I saw buildings all around rocking like
the devil had hold of them. I wondered what was going on. Then I
heard Rossi come scampering into my room. 'My God, it's an
earthquake!' he yelled. 'Get your things and run!' I grabbed what
I could lay my hands on and raced like a madman for the office. On
the way down I shouted as loud as I could so the others would wake
"When I got to the office I thought of my costumes and sent my
valet, Martino, back after them. He packed things up and carried
the trunks down on his back. I helped him take them to Union
It is said that ten minutes later he was seen seated on his valise
in the middle of the street. But to continue his story:
"I walked a few feet away to see how to get out, and when I came
back four Chinamen were lugging my trunks away. I grabbed one of
them by the ears, and the others jumped on me. I took out my
revolver and pointed it at them. They spit at me. I was mad, but
I hated to kill them, so I found a soldier, and he made them give
up the trunks.
"Ah, that soldier was a fine fellow. He went up to the Chinamen
and slapped them upon the face, once, twice, three times. They all
howled like the devil and ran away. I put my revolver back into my
pocket, and then I thanked the soldier. He said: "'Don't mention
it. Them Chinks would steal the money off a dead man's eyes.'"
They say that Rossi, though almost in tears, was heard trying his
voice at a corner near the Palace Hotel.
TEDDY'S PICTURE PROVES "OPEN SESAME."
"I went to Lafayette Square and slept on the grass. When I tried
to get into the square the soldiers pushed me back. I pleaded with
them, but they would not listen. I had under my arm a large
photograph of Theodore Roosevelt, upon which was written: 'With
kindest regards from Theodore Roosevelt.' I showed them this, and
one of them said: 'If you are a friend of Teddy, come in and make
yourself at home.'
"I put my trunks in the cellar of the Hotel St. Francis and thought
they would be safe. The hotel caught fire, and my trunks were all
burned up. To think I took so much trouble to save them!"
In spite of the news of all the woe and suffering which we hear, it
is cheering to learn also of the many thousands of heroic deeds by
brave men during the terrible scenes enacted through the four days
passing since the eventful morning when the earth began to demolish
splendid buildings of business and residence and fire sprang up to
complete the city's destruction. The Mayor and his forces of
police, the troops under command of General Funston, volunteer aids
to all these, and the husbands of terrified wives, and the sons,
brothers and other relatives who toiled for many consecutive hours
through smoke and falling walls and an inferno of flames and
explosions and traps of danger of all kinds, often without food or
water--toiling as men never toiled before to save life and relieve
distress of all kinds--all these were examples of heroism and
devotion to duty seldom witnessed in any scenes of terror in all
time. There are brave, unselfish men and heroic women yet in the
world, and all of the best of human nature has been exhibited in
large dimensions in the terrible disaster at San Francisco.
Disaster Spreads Over the Golden State
The first news that the world received of the earthquake came
direct from San Francisco and was confined largely to descriptions
of the disaster which had overwhelmed that city. It was so sudden,
so appalling, so tragic in its nature, that for the time being it
quite overshadowed the havoc and misery wrought in a number of
other California towns of lesser note.
As the truth, however, became gradually sifted out of the tangle of
rumors, the horror, instead of being diminished, was vastly
increased. It became evident that instead of this being a local
catastrophe, the full force of the seismic waves had travelled from
Ukiah in the north to Monterey in the south, a distance of about
180 miles, and had made itself felt for a considerable distance
from the Pacific westward, wrecking the larger buildings of every
town in its path, rending and ruining as it went, and doing
millions of dollars worth of damage.
THE DESTRUCTION OF SANTA ROSA.
In Santa Rosa, sixty miles to the north of San Francisco, and one
of the most beautiful towns of California, practically every
building was destroyed or badly damaged. The brick and stone
business blocks, together with the public buildings, were thrown
down. The Court House, Hall of Records, the Occidental and Santa
Rosa Hotels, the Athenaeum Theatre, the new Masonic Temple, Odd
Fellows' Block, all the banks, everything went, and in all the city
not one brick or stone building was left standing, except the
California Northwestern Depot.
In the residential portion of the city the foundations receded from
under the houses, badly wrecking about twenty of the largest and
damaging every one more or less; and here, as in San Francisco,
flames followed the earthquake, breaking out in a dozen different
places at once and completing the work of devastation. From the
ruins of the fallen houses fifty-eight bodies were taken out and
interred during the first few days, and the total of dead and
injured was close to a hundred. The money loss at this small city
is estimated at $3,000,000.
The destruction of Santa Rosa gave rise to general sorrow among the
residents of the interior of the State. It was one of the show
towns of California, and not only one of the most prosperous cities
in the fine county of Sonoma, but one of the most picturesque in
the State. Surrounding it there were miles of orchards, vineyards
and corn fields. The beautiful drives of the city were adorned
with bowers of roses, which everywhere were seen growing about the
homes of the people. In its vicinity are the famous gardens of
Luther Burbank, the "California wizard," but these fortunately
At San Jose, another very beautiful city of over 20,000 population,
not a single brick or stone building of two stories or over was
left standing. Among those wrecked were the Hall of justice, just
completed at a cost of $300,000; the new High School, the
Presbyterian Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Numbers of people
were caught in the ruins and maimed or killed. The death list
appears to have been small, but the property damage was not less
than $5,000,000. The Agnew State Insane Asylum, in the vicinity of
San Jose, was entirely destroyed, more than half the inmates being
killed or injured.
THE STANFORD UNIVERSITY.
The Leland Stanford, Jr., University, at Palo Alto (about thirty
miles south of San Francisco), felt the full force of the
earthquake and was badly wrecked. Only two lives were lost as a
result of the earthquake, one of a student, the other of a fireman,
but eight students were injured more or less seriously. The damage
to the buildings is estimated by President Jordan to amount to
The memorial church, with its twelve marble figures of the
apostles, each weighing two tons, was badly injured by the fall of
its Gothic spire, which crashed through the roof and demolished
much of the interior; the great entrance archway was split in twain
and wrecked; so, too, were the library, the gymnasium and the power
house. A number of other buildings in the outer quadrangle and
some of the small workshops were seriously damaged.
Encina Hall and the inner quadrangle were practically uninjured,
and the bulk of the books, collections and apparatus escaped
Sacramento, together with all the smaller cities and towns that dot
the great Sacramento Valley for a distance fifty miles south and
150 miles north of the capital, escaped without injury, not a
single pane of glass being broken or a brick displaced in
Sacramento and no injury done in the other places, they lying
eastward of the seat of serious earthquake activity.
Los Angeles and Santa Barbara escaped with a slight trembling;
Stockton, 103 miles north of San Francisco, felt a severe shock and
the Santa Fe bridge over the San Joaquin River at this point
settled several inches. The only place in Southern California that
suffered was Brawley, a small town lying 120 miles south of Los
Angeles, about 100 buildings in the town and the surrounding valley
being injured, though none of them were destroyed.
THE EARTHQUAKE AT OTHER CITIES.
At Alameda, on the bay opposite San Francisco, a score of chimneys
were shaken down and other injuries done. Railroad tracks were
twisted, and over 600 feet of track of the Oakland Transit
Company's railway sank four feet. The total damage done amounted
to probably $200,000, but no lives were lost. Tomales, a place of
350 inhabitants, was left a pile of ruins.
At Los Panos several buildings were wrecked, causing damage to the
extent of $75,000, but no lives were lost.
At Loma Prieta the earthquake caused a mine house to slip down the
side of a mountain, ten men being buried in the ruins.
Fort Bragg, one of the principal lumbering towns in Mendocino
County, was practically wiped out by fire following the earthquake,
but out of a population of 5,000 only one was killed, though scores
The town of Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco, suffered
considerable damage from twisted structures, fallen walls and
broken chimneys, the greatest injury being in the collapse of the
town hall and the ruin of the deaf and dumb asylum. The University
of California, situated here, was fortunate in escaping injury, it
being reported that not a building was harmed in the slightest
degree. Another public edifice of importance and interest, in a
different section of the State, the famous Lick Astronomical
Observatory, was equally fortunate, no damage being done to the
buildings or the instruments.
AT THE STATE UNIVERSITY.
Salinas, a town down the coast near Monterey, suffered severely,
the place being to a large extent destroyed, with an estimated loss
of over $1,000,000. The Spreckels' sugar factory and a score of
other buildings were reported ruined and a number of lives lost.
During the succeeding week several other shocks of some strength
were reported from this town.
Thus the ruinous work of the earthquake stretched over a broad
track of prosperous, peaceful and happy country, embracing one of
the best sections of California, laying waste not only the towns in
its path, but doing much damage to ranch houses and country
residences. Strange manifestations of nature were reported from
the interior, where the ground was opened in many places like a
ploughed field. Great rents in the earth were reported, and for
many miles north from Los Angeles miniature geysers are said to
have spouted volcano-like streams of hot mud.
Railroad tracks in some localities were badly injured, sinking or
lifting, and being put out of service until repaired. In fact, the
ruinous effects of the earthquake immensely exceeded those of any
similar catastrophe ever before known in the United States, and
when the destruction done by the succeeding conflagration in San
Francisco is taken into account the California earthquake of 1906
takes rank with the most destructive of those recorded in history.
All America and Canada to the Rescue
During the first three days after the terrible news had been
flashed over the world the relief fund from the nation had leaped
beyond the $5,000,000 mark. New York took the lead in the most
generous giving that the world has ever seen. From every town and
country village the people hastened to the Town Halls, the
newspaper offices and wherever help was to be found most quickly,
to add their savings and to sacrifice all but necessities for their
stricken fellow-countrymen. Never has there been such a practical
illustration of brotherly love. A perfect shower of gold and food
was poured out to the sufferers to give them immediate assistance
and to help them to a new start in life. All relief records were
broken within two days of the disaster, but still the purses of the
rich and poor alike continued to add to the huge contributions.
Though the relief records were broken, every succeeding dispatch
from the West told too plainly the terrible fact that all records
of necessity were also broken.
Over the entire globe Americans wherever they were hastened to
cable or telegraph their bankers to add their share to the great
work. A large fund was at once started in London, and with
contributions of from $2,000 to $12,000 the sum was soon raised to
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Individual contributions of $100,000 were common. In addition to
John D. Rockefeller's gift of this sum, his company, the Standard
Oil, gave another $100,000. The Steel Corporation and Andrew
Carnegie each gave $100,000. From London William Waldorf Astor
cabled his American representative, Charles A. Peabody, to place
$100,000 at once at the disposal of Mayor Schmitz, of San
Francisco, which was done. The Dominion Government of Canada made
a special appropriation of $100,000 and the Canadian Bank of
Commerce, at Toronto, gave $10,000. And two of the great steamship
companies owned in Germany sent $25,000 each.
RIGHT OF WAY FOR FOOD TRAINS.
On nearly a dozen roads, two days before the fire was over, great
trains of freight cars loaded with foodstuffs were hastening at
express speed to San Francisco. They had the right of way on every
line. E. H. Harriman, in addition to giving $200,000 for the Union
Pacific, Southern Pacific and other Harriman roads, issued orders
that all relief trains bound for the desolated city should have
Precedence over all other business of the roads.
Advices from many points indicated that at least 150 freight cars
loaded with the necessaries so eagerly awaited in San Francisco
were speeding there as fast as steam could drive them. In
addition, several steamers from other Pacific coast points, all
food-laden, were rushing toward the stricken city.
The rapidity with which the various relief funds in every city grew
was almost magical.
From corporations, firms, labor unions, religious societies,
individuals, rich and poor, money flowed. Even the children in the
schools gave their pennies. Every grade of society, every branch
of trade and commerce seemed inspired by a spirit of emulation in
The United States Government at once voted a contribution of
$1,000,000, and government supplies were rushed from every post in
The $1,000,000 government gift, which formed the nucleus of the
relief fund, was doubled on Saturday by a resolution appropriating
another, and a vote was taken on Monday to increase this sum to
$1,500,000, making a total government contribution of $2,500,000.
This was largely expended in supplies of absolute necessaries,
furnished from the stores of the War Department, and those first
sent being five carloads of army medical supplies from St. Louis.
A cargo of evaporated cream was also sent to use in the care of
little children, while the Red Cross Society shipped a carload of
eggs from Chicago. Dr. Edward Devine, special Red Cross agent in
San Francisco, was appointed to distribute these supplies.
CARGOES OF SUPPLIES.
Trainloads of other supplies were dispatched in all haste from
various points in the West and East, carrying provisions of all
kinds, tents, cots, clothing, bedding and a great variety of other
articles. A special train of twenty-six cars was dispatched from
Portland, Oregon, on Thursday night, conveying ten doctors, twenty
trained nurses and 800,000 pounds of provisions. Chicago sent
meat. Minneapolis sent flour, and, in fact, every part of the
country moved in the greatest haste for the relief of the stricken
There was urgent need of haste. On Friday, while the flames were
still making their way onward, General Funston telegraphed: "Famine
seems inevitable." The people of the country took a more hopeful
view of it, and by Saturday night the spectre of famine was
definitely driven from the field and food for all the fugitives was
THE SYMPATHY OF THE PEOPLE AWAKES.
On all sides the people were awake and doing. In all the great
cities agencies to receive contributions were opened, and many of
the newspapers undertook the task of collecting and forwarding
supplies. The smaller towns were equally alert in furnishing their
quota to the good work, and from countryside and village
contributions were forwarded until the fund accumulated to an
unprecedented amount. Collections were made in factories, in
stores, in offices, in the public schools; cash boxes or globes
stood in all frequented places and were rapidly filled with bank
notes; theatrical and musical entertainments were given for the
benefit of the earthquake sufferers; never had there been such an
awakening. As an instance of the spirit displayed, one man came
running into a banking house and threw a thousand dollar bill on
"For San Francisco," he said, as he turned toward the door.
"What name?" asked the teller.
"Put it down to 'cash,'" he answered, as he vanished.
Rapidly the fund accumulated. A few days brought it up to
the $5,000,000 mark. Then it grew to $10,000,000. Within ten
days' time the relief fund was estimated at $18,000,000, and the
good work was still going on--in less profusion, it is true, but
still the spirit was alive.
FOREIGN OFFERS OF AID.
The generous impulse was not confined to the United States. From
all countries came offers of aid. Canada was promptly in the
field, and the chief nations of Europe were quick to follow, while
Japan made a generous offer, and in far Australia funds were
started at the various cities for the sufferers. No doubt a large
sum from foreign lands would have been available had not President
Roosevelt declined to accept contributions from abroad, as not
needed in view of America's abundant response. To the Hamburg-Line
which offered $25,000, the following letter was sent:
"The President deeply appreciates your message of sympathy, and
desires me to thank you heartily for the kind offer of outside aid.
Although declining, the President earnestly wishes you to
understand how much he appreciates your cordial and generous
All other offerings from abroad were in the same thankful spirit
declined, even those from our immediate neighbors, Canada and
Mexico. Some feeling was aroused by this, especially in the relief
committee at San Francisco, which felt that the need of that city
was so great and urgent that no offer of relief should have been
declined. In response the President explained that he only spoke
for the government, in his official capacity, and that San
Francisco was in no sense debarred from accepting any contributions
made directly to it.
It may justly be said for the people of this country that their
spontaneous generosity in the presence of a great calamity, either
at home or abroad, is always magnificent. It never waits for
solicitation. It does not delay even until the necessity is
demonstrated, but it assumes that where there is great destruction
of property and homes are swept away there must be distress which
calls for immediate relief.
There is one ray of light in the gloom caused by the calamity at
San Francisco. A truly splendid display of brotherly love and
sympathy has been shown by the people of this country, and a
similar display was ready to be shown by the people of the
civilized world had it been felt that the occasion demanded it and
that the exigency surpassed the power of our people to meet it.
ENTERPRISE IN SAN FRANCISCO.
In the face of an appalling and death-dealing disaster, rendering
an entire community dependent for the bare necessities of life and
putting it in imminent danger of greater horrors, the nation has
been stirred as it has rarely been before, and there have been
awakened those deeper feelings of brotherhood which are referred to
in the oft-quoted passage that "one touch of nature makes the whole
The nature indicated in this instance is human nature in its
highest manifestation, the sympathetic sentiment that stirs deeply
in all our hearts and needs but the occasion to make itself warmly
manifested. There is something incomparably splendid in the
spectacle of an entire nation straining every nerve to send succor
to the helpless and the suffering, and this spectacle has warmed
the hearts of our people to the uttermost and inspired them to make
the most strenuous efforts to drive away the gaunt wolf of famine
from the ruined homes of our far Pacific brethren.
It may be said that San Francisco will be willing to accept this
relief only so long as stern necessity demands it. At this writing
only two weeks have passed since the dread calamity, and already
active steps are being taken to provide for themselves. As an
example of their enterprise, it may be said that their newspapers
hardly suspended at all, the Evening Post alone suspending
publication for a time from being unable to acquire a plant in the
vicinity of the city. When the conflagration made it apparent that
all plants would be destroyed, the Bulletin put at work a force in
its composing rooms, a hand-bill was set and some hundreds of
copies run off on the proof-press, giving the salient features of
the day's news.
The morning papers, the Call, Chronicle and Examiner, retired to
Oakland, on the other side of the bay, and there, on Thursday
morning, issued a joint paper from the office of the Oakland
Tribune. On Friday morning they split forces again, the Examiner
retaining the use of the Tribune plant and the Call and Chronicle
issuing from the office of the Oakland Herald. Two days later the
Call secured the service of the Oakland Enquirer plant. Meantime,
on Friday, the Bulletin, after a suspension of one day, made
arrangements for the use in the afternoon of the Oakland Herald
equipment, and from these sources and under such circumstances the
San Francisco papers have been issuing.
Offices were hurriedly opened on Fillmore Street, which today is
the main thoroughfare of San Francisco, and from these headquarters
the news of the day as it is gathered is transmitted by means of
automobiles and ferry service to the Oakland shore.
There also were accepted such advertisements as had been offered.
The number of these was, perhaps, the best visual sign of the
resurrection of the new city. It was noted that in a fourteen-page
paper printed within two weeks after the fire by the Examiner there
were over nine pages of advertisements, and in a sixteen-page paper
published by the Chronicle at least fifty per cent. of its space
was devoted to the same end.
Many of the larger factories left unharmed were also quick to start
work. At the Union Iron Works 2,300 men were promptly employed,
and the management expected within a fortnight to have the full
complement of its force, nearly 4,000 men, engaged. No damage was
done to the three new warships being built at these works for the
government, the cruisers California and Milwaukee and the
battleship South Dakota. The steamer City of Puebla, which was
sunk in the bay, has been raised and is being repaired. Workmen
are also engaged fixing the steamship Columbia, which was turned on
her side. The hulls of the new Hawaiian-American Steamship
Company's liners were pitched about four feet to the south, but
were uninjured and only need to be replaced in position.
As for the working people at large, those without funds for their
own support, abundant employment will quickly be provided for them
in the necessary work of clearing away the debris, thus opening the
way to a resumption of business and reducing the number requiring
relief. The ukase has already been issued that all able-bodied men
needing aid must go to work or leave the city.
This dictum of Chief of Police Dinan's will be strictly enforced.
The relief work and distribution of food and clothing are
attracting a certain element to the city which does not desire to
labor, while some already here prefer to live on the generosity of
others. Chief Dinan has determined that those who apply for relief
and refuse work when it is offered them shall leave the city or be
arrested for vagrancy. The police judges have suggested
establishing a chain gang and putting all vagrants and petty
offenders at work clearing up the ruins.
Perhaps never in the history of the city has there been so little
crime in San Francisco. With the saloons closed, Chinatown, the
Barbary Coast, and other haunts of criminals wiped out, and
soldiers and marines on almost every block in the residence
districts, there have been few crimes of any kind. It is the
opinion of the police that most of the criminal element has left
the city. The saloons, in all probability will remain closed for
two more months.
THE PROBLEM OF THE CHINESE.
In conclusion of this chapter it is advisable to refer to the
situation of one of the elements of San Francisco's population, the
people of Chinatown. One of the problems facing the relief
committees on both sides of the bay is the sheltering of the
Chinese. Many of them are destitute. It has long been a question
in San Francisco what should be done with Chinatown, and moving the
Chinese in the direction of Colma has been agitated. Now they are
without homes and without prospects of procuring any. They can get
no land. The limits of Oakland's Chinatown have already been
extended, and the strictest police regulations are in force to
prevent further enlargement. On this side of the bay they are
camping in open lots. Unless the government undertakes their
relief, they are in grave danger. Those who have money cannot
purchase property, as no one will sell to them. Few, however, even
of the wealthiest merchants in Chinatown, saved anything of value,
for their wealth was invested in the Oriental village which had
sprung up in the heart of the area burned.
Yet it is the desire of the municipality not to harass this portion
of its foreign population, and the vexatious problem of placing the
new Chinatown will probably be settled to the satisfaction of the
Chinese colony. This colony diverts an important part of the trade
of San Francisco to that city, and if its members are dealt with
unjustly there is danger of losing this trade. The question is one
that must be left for the future to decide, but no doubt care will
be taken that a new Chinatown with the unsavory conditions of the
old shall not arise.
San Francisco of the Past
The story of San Francisco's history and tragedy appeal with
extraordinary force to the imagination of all civilized men. For
several generations the city was looked upon as an Arabian Night's
dream--a place where gold lay in the streets and joy and happiness
were unlimited. Its settlement, or, rather, its real rise as a
city, was as by magic. It was first a city of tents, of shanties,
of "shacks," lying on the rim of a great, spacious bay. Ships of
all sizes and rigs brought gold-seekers and provisions from the
East, all the way round Cape Horn, after voyages of weary months,
and at San Francisco their crews deserted and hundreds of these
craft were left at their moorings to rot. Ashore was a riot of
money, prodigious extravagance, mean, shabby appointments, sudden
riches, great disappointment, revelry, improvidence and suicide.
The streets that now lay squares from the water were then at the
water's edge and batteaus brought cargoes ashore. Long wharves--
one was for years called the Long Wharf even after there were
others built much longer--led out over the shallow water. These
shallows were later filled and streets built upon them, and upon
them arose warehouses, hotels, factories, lodging houses and
The city grew rapidly in the direction away from the bay. But in
its early days it was a city with no confidence in its own
stability, and its buildings were accordingly unstable. A few
minor earthquakes shook some of these down years ago and
established in the minds of the people a horror of earthquakes.
Frame houses became the rule.
In its ensuing life San Francisco developed the attributes of a
city of gayety tempered by business. The population, for the most
part, affected light-hearted scorn of money, or, rather, of saving
money. It made mirth of life, habituated itself to expect
windfalls such as miners and prospectors dream of, developed a
moderate amount of business, and enjoyed the day while there was
sunlight and the night when there was artificial light. The
windfalls grew less frequent, mining became a costly and scientific
process, and agriculture succeeded it. But, though it was only
necessary to tickle the land with a hoe and pour water upon the
tickled spot, to have it laugh with two, three or even four
harvests a year, agriculturists continued scarce. The Chinese
truck farms, some of which lay within the city's lines, supplied
the small fruits and vegetables. Across the bay white men farmed,
and grapes, fruits, vegetables and flowers of prodigious variety
and monstrous dimensions were grown. But Eastern men came to do
the farming. The Californian who himself was an "Argonaut," or
whose father was an Argonaut, found no attractions in the steady
labor of farming.
There followed a period of depression, ascribed by many to the
influx of the Chinese and their effect upon the labor market,
though the army of the unemployed were as a rule unwilling to do
the work their Celestial rivals engaged in, that of truck farming,
fruit raising, manual household labor, wood cutting and the like.
A heavy weight settled on the city; business grew slack; the army
of the unemployed, of ruined speculators and moneyless newcomers
grew steadily greater, and for an era San Francisco saw its dark
But this was not a long duration. There was fast developing a new
and important business, resulting from the development of the real
resources of the State--the fruits, particularly the citrous fruits
that grew abundantly in the warm valley. Fortunes were made in
oranges, lemons, limes, grapes, almonds and pears. Raisins, whose
size defied anything heretofore known, were made from the huge
grapes that grew in the San Joaquin Valley. Sonoma sent its grapes
to be made into wine. Capital flowed in from every side. Eastern
men in search of health, others in search of wealth, came to the
Golden State. No matter who came, where they came from, or where
they were going, they spent a few days, or many, and some money, or
much, in "'Frisco." The enterprise of the second edition pioneers
quickly transformed the State and city.
AGRICULTURE BRINGS NEW WEALTH.
Luxury was startling. San Francisco's mercantile community equaled
the best, the stores and shops were as beautiful as anywhere in the
world and proportionately as well patronized. Theatres, music
halls, restaurants, hotel bars and the like were ablaze with lights
at night, and patronized by a gay throng. Sutro's bath, near the
Cliff House, was a species of entertainment unequaled anywhere.
The Presidio, as the army post is still known, as in the Spanish
nomenclature, gave its drills, regarded as free exhibitions for the
people. Golden Gate Park was an endless daily picnic ground.
The crowds in the streets of San Francisco were noticeably well
dressed and usually gay, without that fixed, drawn, saturnine look
noticeable among the people of the East. It is doubtful whether,
upon the whole, the earnings of the San Francisco man equaled those
of his Eastern brother, but his holidays were frequent and his joys
greater. The grind of life was not yet steady--men had not become
The climate of California is peculiar; it is hard to give an
impression of it. In the first place, all the forces of nature
work on laws of their own in that part of California. There is no
thunder or lightning; there is no snow, except a flurry once in
five or six years; there are perhaps half a dozen nights in the
winter when the thermometer drops low enough so that there is a
little film of ice on exposed water in the morning. Neither is
there any hot weather. Yet most Easterners remaining in San
Francisco for a few days remember that they were always chilly.
A PECULIAR YET DELIGHTFUL CLIMATE.
For the Gate is a big funnel, drawing in the winds and the mists
which cool off the great, hot interior valley of San Joaquin and
Sacramento. So the west wind blows steadily ten months of the year
and almost all the mornings are foggy. This keeps the temperature
steady at about 55 degrees--a little cool for comfort of an
unacclimated person, especially indoors. Californians, used to it,
hardly ever think of making fires in their houses except in the few
exceptional days of the winter season, and then they rely mainly
upon fireplaces. This is like the custom of the Venetians and the
But give an Easterner six months of it, and he, too, learns to
exist without a chill in a steady temperature a little lower than
that to which he is accustomed at home. After that one goes about
with perfect indifference to the temperature. Summer and winter
San Francisco women wear light tailor-made clothes, and men wear
the same fall-weight suits all the year around.
Except for the modern buildings, the fruit of the last ten years,
the town presented at first sight to the newcomer a disreputable
appearance. Most of the buildings were low and of wood. In the
middle period of the 70's, when a great part of San Francisco was
building, there was some atrocious architecture perpetrated. In
that time, too, every one put bow windows on his house, to catch
all of the morning sunlight that was coming through the fog, and
those little houses, with bow windows and fancy work all down their
fronts, were characteristic of the middle class residence
Then the Italians, who tumbled over Telegraph Hill, had built as
they listed and with little regard for streets, and their houses
hung crazily on a side hill which was little less than a precipice.
For the most part the Chinese, although they occupied an abandoned
business district, had remade the houses Chinese fashion, and the
Mexicans and Spaniards had added to their houses those little
balconies without which life is not life to a Spaniard.
The hills are steep beyond conception. Where Vallejo Street ran up
Russian Hill it progressed for four blocks by regular steps like a
flight of stairs.
With these hills, with the strangeness of the architecture, and
with the green gray tinge over everything, the city fell always
into vistas and pictures, a setting for the romance which hung over
everything, which has always hung over life in San Francisco since
the padres came and gathered the Indians about Mission Dolores.
And it was a city of romance and a gateway to adventure. It opened
out on the mysterious Pacific, the untamed ocean, and most of
China, Japan, the South Sea Islands, Lower California, the west
coast of Central America, Australia that came to this country
passed in through the Golden Gate. There was a sprinkling, too, of
Alaska and Siberia. From his windows on Russian Hill one saw
always something strange and suggestive creeping through the mists
of the bay. It would be a South Sea Island brig, bringing in
copra, to take out cottons and idols; a Chinese junk with fan-like
sails, back from an expedition after sharks' livers; an old whaler,
which seemed to drip oil, back from a year of cruising in the
Arctic. Even, the tramp windjammers were deep-chested craft,
capable of rounding the Horn or of circumnavigating the globe; and
they came in streaked and picturesque from their long voyaging.
A MIXTURE OF RACES.
In the orange colored dawn which always comes through the mists of
that bay, the fishing fleet would crawl in under triangular lateen
sails, for the fishermen of San Francisco Bay are all Neapolitans,
who have brought their costumes and sail with lateen rigs shaped
like the ear of a horse when the wind fills them and stained an
The "smelting pot of the races" Stevenson called the region along
the water front, for here the people of all these craft met,
Italians, Greeks, Russians, Lascars, Kanakas, Alaska Indians, black
Gilbert Islanders, Spanish-Americans, wanderers and sailors from
all the world, who came in and out from among the queer craft to
lose themselves in the disreputable shanties and saloons. The
Barbary Coast was a veritable bit of Satan's realm. The place was
made up of three solid blocks of dance halls, for the delectation
of the sailors of the world. Within those streets of peril the
respectable never set foot; behind the swinging doors of those
saloons anything might be happening, crime was as common here as
drink, and much went on of which the law was blankly ignorant.
Not far removed from this haunt of crime was the world-famous
Chinatown, a district six blocks long and two wide, and housing
when at its fullest some 30,000 Chinese. Old business houses at
first, the new inmates added to them, rebuilt them, ran out their
own balconies and entrances, and gave them that feeling of huddled
irregularity which makes all Chinese built dwellings fall naturally
into pictures. Not only this, they burrowed to a depth equal to
three stories under the ground, and through this ran passages in
which the Chinese transacted their dark and devious affairs--as the
smuggling of opium, the traffic in slave girls and the settlement
of their difficulties, by murder if they saw fit. The law was
powerless to prevent or discover and convict the murderers.
Chinatown is gone; the Barbary Coast is gone; the haunts of crime
have been swept by the devouring flames, and if the citizens can
prevent they will never be restored. The old San Francisco is
dead. The gayest, lightest-hearted, most pleasure-loving city of
this continent, and in many ways the most interesting and romantic,
is a horde of huddled refugees living among ruins. It may rebuild;
it probably will; but those who have known that peculiar city by
the Golden Gate and have caught its flavor of the Arabian Nights
feel that it can never be the same. When it rises out of its ashes
it will probably doubtless resemble other modern cities and have
lost its old strange flavor.
Life in the Metropolis of the Pacific
Brought up in a bountiful country, where no one really has to work
very hard to live, nurtured on adventure, scion of a free and merry
stock, the real, native Californian is a distinctive type; as far
from the Easterner in psychology as the extreme Southern is from
the Yankee. He is easy going, witty, hospitable, lovable, inclined
to be unmoral rather than immoral in his personal habits, and above
all easy to meet and to know.
Above all there is an art sense all through the populace which sets
it off from any other part of the country. This sense is almost
Latin in its strength, and the Californian owes it to the leaven of
THE 'FRISCO RESTAURANTS.
With such a people life was always gay. If they did not show it on
the streets, as do the people of Paris, it was because the winds
made open cafes disagreeable at all seasons of the year. The
gayety went on indoors or out on the hundreds of estates that
fringed the city. It was noted for its restaurants. Perhaps
people who cared not how they spent their money could get the best
they wished, but for a dollar down to as low as fifteen cents the
restaurants furnished the best fare to be had anywhere at the
The country all about produced everything that a cook needs, and
that in abundance--the bay was an almost untapped fish-pond, the
fruit farms came up to the very edge of the town, and the
surrounding country produced in abundance fine meats, all cereals
and all vegetables.
But the chefs who came from France in the early days and liked this
land of plenty were the head and front of it. They passed their
art to other Frenchmen or to the clever Chinese. Most of the
French chefs at the biggest restaurants were born in Canton, China.
Later the Italians, learning of this country where good food is
appreciated, came and brought their own style. Householders always
dined out one or two nights of the week, and boarding houses were
scarce, for the unattached preferred the restaurants. The eating
was usually better than the surroundings.
THE FAMOUS POODLE DOG.
Meals that were marvels were served in tumbledown little hotels.
Most famous of all the restaurants was the Poodle Dog. There have
been no less than four restaurants of this name, beginning with a
frame shanty where, in the early days, a prince of French cooks
used to exchange recipes for gold dust. Each succeeding restaurant
of the name has moved farther downtown; and the recent Poodle Dog
stands--or stood--on the edge of the Tenderloin in a modern five-
story building. And it typified a certain spirit that there was in
On the ground floor was a public restaurant where there was served
the best dollar dinner on earth. It ranked with the best and the
others were in San Francisco. Here, especially on Sunday night,
almost everybody went to vary the monotony of home cooking. Every
one who was any one in the town could be seen there off and on. It
was perfectly respectable. A man might take his wife and daughter
On the second floor there were private dining rooms, and to dine
there, with one or more of the opposite sex, was risque but not
especially terrible. But the third floor--and the fourth floor--
and the fifth! The elevator man of the Poodle Dog, who had held
the job for many years and never spoke unless spoken to, wore
diamonds and was a heavy investor in real estate.
There were others as famous in their way--Zinkaud's, where, at one
time, every one went after the theatre, and Tate's, which has
lately bitten into that trade; the Palace Grill, much like the
grills of Eastern hotels, except for the price; Delmonico's, which
ran the Poodle Dog neck and neck in its own line, and many others,
humbler, but great at the price.
THE BOHEMIAN CLUB.
To the visitor who came to see the city and who put himself in the
hands of one of its well-to-do citizens for the purpose, the few
days that followed were apt to be a whirl of mirth and sight-
seeing, made up of breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, drives, little
trips across the bay, dashes down the peninsula to the polo and
country clubs, hours spent in Bohemia, trips around the world among
all the races of the habitable globe, all of whom had their
colonies in this most cosmopolitan of American cities.
In club life the Bohemian stood first and foremost, the famous club
whose meeting place, with all its art treasures, is now a heap of
ashes, but which was formerly 'Frisco's head-centre of mirth.
Founded by Henry George, the world-famous single tax advocate, when
he was an impecunious scribbler on the San Francisco Post, it grew
to be the choicest place of resort in the Pacific metropolis.
Within its walls the possession of dollars was a bar rather than an
"open sesame," the master key to its circles being the knack of
telling a good story or the possession of quick and telling wit.
Fun-making was the rule there, and the only way to escape being
made its victim was the power to deliver a ready and witty retort.
In this home of good fellowship all the artists, actors, wits,
literati, fiddlers, pianists and bon vivants were members. Here an
impoverished painter could square his grill and buffet account by
giving the club a daub to hang on its walls. Here in days of old
the Sheriff used to camp regularly once a month until the members
rustled up the money to replevin the furniture. But these days of
poverty passed away, and in later years the club came to know
prosperity beyond the dreams of the good fellows who founded it.
THE WICKEDEST AND GAYEST.
The Bohemian is gone, but the spirit that founded and made it still
exists, and we may look to see it rise, like the phoenix, from its
San Francisco was often called the wickedest city in America. It
was hardly that, it was simply the gayest. It was not the home of
purity; neither is any other city. What other cities do behind
closed doors San Francisco did not hesitate to do in the open.
In Eastern cities the police have driven vice into tenements,
lodging houses and apartments. San Francisco did not do that. She
had certain quarters where, according to unwritten law, vice was
allowed to abide, and she did not try to hide the fact that it
could be found there. She was not secretly immoral; she was
She did not believe in driving her vice from the open where it
could be recognized and controlled--prevented from doing any more
harm than it was possible to stop--into districts of the city where
good people dwell and purity would feel its contaminating
influence. There were regions in which the respectable never set
foot, haunts of acknowledged vice which for virtue to enter would
be to lose caste.
As for its gayety, San Francisco was proud of the reputation of
being the Paris of America. Its women were beautiful, and they
knew it. They liked to adorn their beauty with fine clothes and
peacock along the streets on matinee days. If you asked a San
Francisco girl why she wore such expensive clothes, she would say,
frankly, "Because I like to have the men admire me," and she would
see no harm in saying it. There was very little sham about the San
Francisco women. Their men understood them and worshiped them.
They bore themselves with the freedom that was theirs by right of
their heritage of open-air living, the Bohemian atmosphere they
breathed, the unconventional character of their surroundings.
Their figures were strong and well moulded, their faces bloomed
with health like the roses in their gardens. They drew the wine of
laughter from their balmy California air. Sorrow and trouble sat
lightly on their shoulders.
There was no end of enjoyments. After the theatre they would go to
Zinkaud's, Tate's, the Palace or some other of the many places of
resort, for a snack to eat and a spell under the music, which was
to be heard everywhere.
Another part of the gay life of the city was for a private dance to
keep going all night in a fashionable residence, and at daylight,
instead of everybody going to bed, to jump into automobiles or
carriages or take the trolley cars and whizz off to the beach for a
dip in the cold salt water pool at Sutro's baths, and then, with
ravenous appetites, sit down on the Cliff House balcony to an open-
air breakfast while watching the ships sail in and out at the
Golden Gate and hearing the seals barking on the rocks. After that
home and to rest.
AN ALL-NIGHT TOWN.
The city never went to sleep altogether. It was "an all-night"
town. Few of the restaurants ever closed, none of the saloons did.
Always during the whole twenty-four hours of the day there was
"something doing" in the Tenderloin. No hour of the night was ever
free of revelry. It was marvelous how they kept it up. The
average San Franciscon could stay awake all night at a card game,
take a cold wash and a good breakfast in the morning, and go
straight downtown to business and feel none the worse for it.
It was a gay town, a captivating, piquant, audacious, but not
especially wicked city. A Frenchy, a risque city it might justly
have been called, but it was not wicked in the sense that sordid
vice, vulgar crime and wretched squalor constitute wickedness.
It was a lovable place that everybody longed to get back to, once
having been there. A woman, leaving it for years, watched it from
the ferryboat, and, weeping, said, "San Francisco, oh, my San
Francisco, I am leaving thee."
Will those who left it after the fire ever get back to their old
city again? We have already expressed our doubt of this. The old
San Francisco is probably gone, never to return. The new San
Francisco will be a cleaner, saner and safer city, destitute of its
rookeries, its tenements and its Chinatown. It will be a greater
and more sightly city than that of the past, but to those who knew
and loved the old San Francisco--San Francisco the captivating, the
maddest, gayest, liveliest and most rollicking in the country--
there must be something impressibly sad to its old inhabitants in
the reflection that the new city of the Golden Gate can never be
quite the same as the haven of their early affections.
Plans to Rebuild San Francisco.
Almost as soon as the terrible conflagration had been checked and
gotten under control by the heroic efforts of the soldiers and
firemen, a little group of the leading citizens of the desolated
city had met in the office of Mayor Eugene E. Schmitz and had begun
to plan the restoration of their municipality. It was an admirable
courage, bred in the stock of those men who in 1849 left
comfortable homes in the East to seek their fortune in the Golden
State, that inspired the loyal leaders of the present day citizens
to provide with far-seeing eyes for the rebuilding of their homes
and business houses with more orderly precision after the fire than
had been possible during the hustle of early days in a new city.
The old San Francisco was no more, and never could be recalled save
as a memory. The local color, atmosphere, that which might be
termed the feeling of the old city, vanished with the clustered
houses, as rich in tradition as the ancient missions in whose
cloisters worshiped the Spanish padre "before the Gringo came."
Heartrending as it was to the citizens who loved their homes and
haunts to see them disappear into smoke, there was an attraction
about the city of the Golden Gate which endeared it to all
One of San Francisco's charms was in its defiance of precedent.
There were hills to be conquered, and San Francisco' s expanding
traffic hurled itself at the face of them. It went up and up, with
no thought of finding a way around. So it happened that on some of
the streets the steepness was too great for horses. In the centre
there are cable roads, and on either side of the rails grass grows
through the cobbles. The earlier structures on the level were put
together in haste. For the most part they remained essentially
unchanged until they fell with a crash. True, they had become
stained by time, unkempt, dwarfed by new neighbors, but nobody
desired to efface them. Away from the business section houses
appeared on the various hills, perched precariously near the brink;
houses reached by long flights and grown over with roses. The
bathing fogs touched them with gray. Moss grew on their roofs. In
the little, lofty yards calla lilies bloomed with the profusion of
weeds. The natural beauty of the site, the quaintness of the
commercial and social development of which it became the centre,
attracted the poet and the artist. It incited them to paint the
attractions and to sing the praises of their chosen home.
But the loyal sons of those brave pioneers who founded the
metropolis were not in the least daunted by the problem of raising
from its ruins the whole vast number of dwellings and business
houses. The leaders of the people, the men who had been identified
with San Francisco since its early days, and whose great fortunes
were almost swept away by the cataclysm, lent courage to all the
wearied thousands by firm statements of their optimism.
James D. Phelan, former Mayor of the city and one of its richest
capitalists, immediately announced his intention of rebuilding his
properties at Market and O'Farrell Streets, in the heart of the
ruined business district. William H. Crocker, one of the heaviest
losers, a nephew of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central
Pacific Railroad with Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford and
others, stated emphatically that he would put his shoulder to the
wheel. On receiving the first news of the disaster, and before he
knew what his losses would amount to, he said:
"Mark my words, San Francisco will arise from these ashes a greater
and more beautiful city than ever. I don't take any stock in the
belief of some people that investors and residents will be panicky
and afraid to build up again. This calamity, terrible as it is,
will mean nothing less than a new and grander San Francisco. It is
preposterous to suggest the abandonment of the city. It is the
natural metropolis of the Pacific coast. God made it so. D. O.
Mills, the Spreckels family, everybody I know, have determined to
rebuild and to invest more than ever before. Burnham, the great
Chicago architect, has been at work for a year or more on plans to
beautify San Francisco. Terrible as this destruction has been, it
serves to clear the way for the carrying out of these plans. Why,
even now we are figuring on rebuilding. More than that, I am
confident that, except for what fire has absolutely laid waste, it
will be found that the buildings are less injured than was
supposed. Plastering, ornamental work, glass and more or less
loose material has been shaken down, but the framework, I am sure,
will be found intact in many big buildings."
D. Ogden Mills, of New York, who owned enormous properties in the
stricken city, was equally confident.
"We will go ahead," said he, "and build the city, and build it so
that earthquakes will not shake it down and so fire will not
destroy it, and we will have a water system which will enable us to
draw water from the sea for fire extinguishing service and other
municipal purposes. We will thus have less to fear from the
destruction of the land mains. The whole point with all of us who
own property down there is that we have to build. To let it lie
idle, piled with its ruins, would mean the throwing away of money,
and I am sure none of us intends to do that. The city will go up
like Baltimore did, and Galveston, and Charleston, and Chicago, and
there will be no lack of capital. California spirit and California
enterprise, which are always associated with the State of
California, will rise superior to this calamity."
George Crocker, elder brother of William H. Crocker; Archer M.
Huntington, son of Collis P. Huntington; Mrs. Herman Oelrichs, Mrs.
W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., members of the wealthy Spreckels family and
others all expressed, before the great conflagration had ceased
burning, the confident expectation that the city would rise,
Phoenix-like, from its ashes and become more beautiful and
prosperous than it had ever been in the past.
So complete was the calamity that the Government of the United
States lent a hand in the earliest work of restoration. On April
20th, two days after the earthquake, Congress took immediate steps
to repair or replace all the public buildings damaged or destroyed
in San Francisco. The willingness of Congress to assist those in
need of work by immediately beginning the reconstruction of the
Federal buildings was indicated when Senator Scott, chairman of the
Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, introduced a resolution
calling upon the Secretary of the Treasury for full information as
to the exact condition of the various government buildings in San
Francisco, and instructing him to submit an estimate showing the
aggregate sum needed to repair or rebuild them. The resolution
suggested that steel frames be used in any new buildings. This
resolution was adopted. It was soon learned that the new Post
Office, the Mint and the old Customs House were practically
undamaged. The branch of the United States Mint, on Fifth Street,
and the new Post Office at Seventh and Mission Streets, were
striking examples of the superiority of workmanship put into
Federal buildings. The old Mint building, surrounded by a wide
space of pavement, was absolutely unharmed. The Mint made
preparations to resume business at once. The Post Office building
also was virtually undamaged by fire. The earthquake shock did
some damage to the different entrances to the building, but the
walls were left standing in good condition. President Roosevelt
also sent a message to Congress asking that $300,000 be at once
appropriated to finish the Mare Island Navy Yard, in order that
employment might be given to the many workmen who were in extreme
need of money for the necessities of life.
It was a most fortunate circumstance that the property records in
the Hall of Records were unharmed either by earthquake or fire.
Endless disputes and litigation over the questions of ownerships
would undoubtedly have otherwise impeded the work of those
sincerely anxious to repair their shattered fortunes and opened the
way for the unscrupulous to take unfair advantage of the general
But the temper of the people was such that only the boldest would
have dared to use trickery for his own ends. Every man stood at
the side of his neighbor working for himself and for the good of
all. Before the embers were cool the owners of some of the damaged
skyscrapers gave commands to proceed instantly with their
reconstruction. The Spreckels Building, the Hayward Building, the
St. Francis Hotel, the Merchants' Exchange and structures that
permitted it were ordered rushed into shape as quickly as possible.
And already contracts had been drawn up for other steel-frame
buildings to be erected with all speed. Many substantial business
men and property owners of San Francisco were in consultation with
the architects within a few days. While the work of clearing away
the debris went forward, a corps of draughtsmen was busily occupied
preparing plans for the new buildings to adorn the city.
Mayor Schmitz telegraphed to the Mayors of all leading cities,
inquiring how many architects or architectural draughtsmen could be
induced to leave for San Francisco at once, and hundreds of young
men immediately responded to the call. Experts of the several
great contracting companies hurried to the scene and were ready to
deposit material and labor on the ground for the work of
restoration. Daniel H. Burnham, a leading architect of Chicago,
who had previously drawn plans for beautifying the city, was
summoned to superintend the work.
All the horses, mules and wagons obtainable were immediately
pressed into service to remove the debris and clear the streets so
that traffic could be resumed. Within a week after the first
earthquake shock trolley cars were running in the principal
streets, telephone communication had been re-established in the
most needed quarters, electric lights were available and business
had begun again on a limited scale.
Yet, in spite of the indomitable courage of the citizens and the
efficient labor of the public officers and the utility companies,
an enormous amount of work remained. Virtually every bank in San
Francisco had to be rebuilt. Only the Market Street National Bank
was left nearly undamaged. An official list of the condition of
the school buildings throughout the city showed that twenty-nine
school buildings were destroyed and that forty-four were partially,
at least, spared. Many of the latter were so damaged that they had
to be either pulled down or thoroughly repaired, and arrangements
were made to resume the short term in tents erected in the parks,
where thousands of the homeless had already found temporary
shelter. With these two vital classes of public institutions
prepared to care for the demands about to be made on them,
confidence was not lacking in other parts. Most of the foundries
and factories near the water front and south of Market Street
immediately called in all their employees and began to clear away
the wreckage and make ready for continuing business. Great credit
is due to the newspapers, nearly all of which continued their daily
issues without interruption, although their buildings, with offices
and printing plants, were entirely destroyed by the flames which
followed the earthquake. Those whose premises were early
threatened with destruction betook themselves to Oakland, seven
miles distant across the bay, and published their sheets from the
establishments of the Oakland papers. A thorough inspection shows
that comparatively little damage was done in the vicinity of the
Cliff. The Cliff House, which was at first reported to have been
hurled into the sea, not only stood, but the damage sustained by it
from the earthquake was slight. The famous Sutro baths, located
near the Cliff House, with the hundreds of thousands of square feet
of glass roofing, also were practically unharmed. Only a few of
the windows in the Sutro baths and the Cliff House were broken, and
the lofty chimney of the pumping plant of the former establishment
was cracked only a trifle. When the situation was finally summed
up, however, nearly three-fourths of the city had to be rebuilt or
remodeled, and the cost of doing this was enough to appal the
Financially the prospect was encouraging. Not a bank lost the
contents of its fireproof vaults and remained practically unharmed,
so far as credit was concerned.
For a number of days it was impossible to open any strong boxes on
account of the great heat which the thick walls retained, and this
naturally caused some embarrassment and lack of ready money.
Nearly all of them, however, had strong connections in Eastern
cities and large balances to their credit in other banks of America
and Europe. They were also favored by the fact that the United
States Mint and the Sub-Treasury held between them some
$245,000,000 in ready money. The Secretary of the Treasury
immediately deposited $10,000,000 to the credit of the local banks,
and financiers of the great business centres of the country added
to public confidence by prompt statements that they would
facilitate the reconstruction of the city by a liberal advancement
One prominent Eastern capitalist expressed the general conviction
in the following words:
"No great city, unless it dried up entirely from lack of commercial
life blood, was ever annihilated by such a disaster as that of San
Francisco. Pompeii and Herculaneum were not great cities in the
first place, and in the second, they were completely covered,
smothered as it were, with the ashes and molten lava of the
adjoining volcano, and nearly all of their inhabitants perished.
If it be admitted that three-fourths of the superstructures, so to
speak, of San Francisco, estimated according to valuation, is
destroyed, we have yet the fact remaining that the lives of only
about one four-hundredth of its population have been lost.
"San Francisco was not merely land and the buildings erected upon
it, but it was people, and one of the most active, most hopeful,
most vivacious human communities on the face of the earth. You
cannot long discourage such a community, unless you wipe out three-
fourths of its members. Will San Francisco rise again? Most
certainly it will. Galveston and Baltimore, not to mention
Charleston, Boston and Chicago, showed the spirit of material
resurrection in American communities, sore-smitten by calamity.
After Galveston had been made a desert of sand and debris, there
were predictions that it would never rise again. What was the
outcome? A finer Galveston than before, and finer than many years
of slow improvement in the natural course would have made it.
Baltimore is busier commercially than it was before the great fire.
"San Francisco is exceedingly fortunate in the fact that its
moneyed institutions remain strong, with abundant supplies of
funds. It is true that many of them undoubtedly hold large numbers
of real estate mortgages as securities for loans, and that much of
the property thus represented is now in ashes. But with care and
an accommodating spirit practically all of those mortgaged can be
so nursed that they will be made absolutely good. The banks will
be found to be only too eager to afford new loans which will enable
realty owners to rebuild. You will see San Francisco rise a more
splendid city than ever, and better prepared to resist future
earthquake shocks. Because it has had this dreadful visitation is
no reason for apprehension that another like it will come within
the life of the present generation, or two or three after. The
destruction of Lisbon in the middle of the eighteenth century and
its subsequent immunity from seismic damage is a reassuring
The municipality was in excellent financial condition to meet and
rise above the extraordinary needs of the situation. It had a
bonded debt of only $4,245,100, while its realty valuation was
$402,127,261 and its personalty $122,258,406. The question of
issuing further amounts of bonds was therefore one of the first
measures considered by Mayor Schmitz and his co-workers, and an
appeal was made to the Federal Government to guarantee the proposed
loans, so that the most urgent work which lay in the city's
province could be undertaken at once and without an excessive
burden of interest.
The vast insurance loss was divided among 107 companies, and,
though only a little more than half the damage was covered by
policies, the total swelled toward the colossal sum of
$150,000,000. Several of the largest companies were seriously
crippled by the disaster and some were forced into liquidation. To
the great relief of the entire country, nevertheless, the financial
situation was not severely affected, and there was every reason to
believe that the great bulk of the insurance would be paid.
The Earthquake Wave Felt Round the Earth.
The outbreak of earth forces at San Francisco did not stand alone.
There were others elsewhere at nearly the same time, the whole
seeming to indicate a general disturbance in the interior of the
earth's crust. Some scientists, indeed, declared that no possible
connection could exist between the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and
the earthquake at San Francisco, but others were inclined to view
certain facts in regard to recent seismic and volcanic activity as,
to say the least, suggestive.
As to the actual cause of the California earthquake, the wisest
confession we can make is that of ignorance, there being almost as
little known as to the origin, period and coming of earthquakes as
when Pliny wrote 1,800 years ago. The Roman observer knew that the
tremor passed like a wave through the surface of the earth; he knew
that it had a given direction, and he knew that certain regions
were rife with seismic disturbance. More he could not say, and
when this is said all has been said that is known to-day.
Setting aside these general considerations, let us return to the
question of the disaster at San Francisco on that fatal morning of
April 18th. The shock did not come unexpectedly. A month previous
there had been a severe earthquake in the Island of Formosa, and
many lives were lost there, while an enormous amount of damage was
done. Only a few days before the event in San Francisco there was
another earthquake in the same island. Still greater havoc was
caused by it than by the earthquake in March, but fewer lives were
lost, the reason being that the people were warned in time. Early
in April the eruption of Mount Vesuvius reached its height and
devastated the country around the volcano, covering an enormous
territory with ashes, and caused the loss of hundreds of lives.
On Tuesday night, April 17th, word was received from Piatigorsk,
Circassia, that there had been two severe earthquake shocks the
previous day in Northern Caucasia. The same night a telegram from
Madrid said that the newspapers there reported that the long-
dormant volcano on Palma, the largest of the Canary Islands, was
showing signs of eruption, columns of smoke issuing from the
WIDESPREAD EARTH TREMORS.
While scientists as a rule doubt that there was any connection
between these volcanic phenomena and the earthquake at San
Francisco, yet reports from the Mount Weather observation station
in Virginia, a few miles from Washington, show that the eruptions
of Vesuvius acted on the magnetic instruments by electro-magnetic
waves in such a way as to disturb the electrical potentials at that
place. Be this as it may, there is one remarkable circumstance in
regard to all this activity. All the places mentioned--Formosa,
Southern Italy, Caucasia, and the Canary Islands--lie within a belt
bounded by lines a little north of the fortieth parallel and a
little south of the thirtieth parallel. San Francisco is just
south of the fortieth parallel, while Naples is just north of it.
The latitude of Calabria, where the terrible earthquakes occurred
in 1905, is the same as that of the territory affected by the
recent earthquake in the United States. This may or may not have
some bearing on the question.
Whatever be thought of all this, one thing is certain, the
earthquake which laid San Francisco in ruins was felt the world
over, wherever there were instruments in position to detect and
record it. The seismograph in the government observatory at
Washington showed that the first wave, on April 18th, came at 8.19-
-equivalent to 5.19 at San Francisco; that at 8.25 there was a
stronger wave motion, and that from 8.32 to 8.35 the recording pen
was carried off the paper. The vibrations did not entirely cease
until 12.35 P. M., during this period there having been nearly half
an inch of to and fro motion in the surface of the earth.
RECORDS OF FOREIGN OBSERVATIONS.
From far away New Zealand, on the same date, the government
seismograph at the capital, Wellington, recorded seismic waves that
apparently passed round the earth five times at intervals of about
four hours each.
Across the Atlantic, at Heidelberg, in Germany, the records showed
vibrations lasting one hour. At Sarayevo, in Bosnia, there was a
sharp shock at 11 A. M., undulating from west to east. At
Funfkirchen, in Hungary, at Laibach, in Austria, in the Isle of
Wight, off the coast of England, and all through Italy, from north
to south, the shocks were felt.
At Hancock, Mich., a shock was felt on April 19th a mile below the
surface in the Quincy mine of such severity that one man was killed
and four injured by a fall of rock loosened by the trembling of the
earth. There is no evidence, however, that this had any connection
with the California disaster, the dates not coinciding.
Turning to the Far East, across the Pacific, seismographs in the
Imperial University of Tokio showed that the earthquake was felt
there eleven minutes later than in San Francisco, and similar
instruments in Manila detected the arrival of the seismic waves
twenty minutes after the San Francisco shock. In this there was a
slight difference in time compared with Tokio, but, considering the
distance, near enough to prove that the disturbances came from the
Not until the day following was any noticeable disturbance felt in
Honolulu, but on April 19th shocks were plainly felt for six
minutes and the water in the harbor rose rapidly. Panic seemed
imminent just before the shocks subsided. While earthquakes are by
no means infrequent in these islands, this was more severe than any
recorded in recent years, causing buildings to sway to and fro and
partly demolishing some of frail construction.
If, as the majority of men qualified to discuss earthquakes seem to
think, the San Francisco earthquake had no connection with volcanic
action, but was caused by what is technically known as a "fault" in
the formation of the crust of the earth, it seems easy enough to
account for these wave motions travelling round the earth. How
widely this may really have made itself felt it is not possible to
say. Several of the great earthquakes in Japan have been recorded
in the seismographs of the observatories on every continent and in
Australia, showing that in severe disturbances of this kind the
whole surface strata quiver, alike under the oceans and over the
continents and islands. At the time of a shock, of course, half of
the world is in darkness and asleep. This is taken to account for
the fact that so far only a few observatories have reported
catching the San Francisco vibrations.
The instruments invented for the recording of the motions of the
earth's crust are looked upon by scientists as the most delicate of
all machines. So highly sensitive are they, indeed, that the very
slightest vibratory motion is recorded perfectly. Even the tread
of feet cannot escape this instrument if sufficient to cause a
There are three classes of instruments for the automatic recording
of earth tremors, each with its own particular function. First is
the seismoscope, which will merely detect and record the fact that
there has been such a tremor. Some of these are so equipped as to
indicate the time of the disturbance.
Second, is the seismometer, the function of which is to measure the
maximum force of the shock, either with or without an indication of
its direction. The third instrument is the seismograph, which is
so arranged that it will accurately record the number, succession,
direction, amplitude and period of successive oscillations. This
last instrument is by far the most delicate of the three.
In the construction of this earthquake recording machine the maker
must so suspend a heavy body that when its normal position is
disturbed in the most infinitesimal degree no reactionary force
will be developed tending to restore it to its original position.
The inventor has never been found who could accomplish this
suspension of a body to perfection. The seismograph of to-day,
however, has reached a stage of perfection where close
approximations are obtained in the records made.
Vesuvius Devastates the Region of Naples.
We have in other chapters described the terrible work of Mount
Vesuvius in the past, from the far-off era of the destruction of
Pompeii down to the end of the last century. There comes before us
now another frightful eruption, one of the greatest in its history,
that of 1906. For thirty years before this outbreak the mighty
volcano had been comparatively quiet, rarely ceasing, indeed, to
smoke and fume, but giving little indication of the vast forces
buried in its heart. It showed some sympathy with Mont Pelee in
1902, and continued restless after that time, but it was not until
about the middle of February, 1906, that it became threatening,
lava beginning to overflow from the crater and make its lurid way
down the mountain's side.
It was in the middle of the first week of April that these
indications rose to the danger point, the flow of lava suddenly
swelling from a rivulet to a river, pouring in a gleaming flood
over the crater's rim, and meeting the other streams that came
streaming down the volcano's rugged flank. While this went on the
mountain remained comparatively quiet, there being no explosions,
though a huge cloud of volcanic ash and cinders rose high in the
air until it hung over the crater in the shape of an enormous pine
tree, while from it a shower of dust and sand, soon to become
terrible, began to descend upon the surrounding fields and towns.
Dangerous as is Vesuvius at any time, the people of the vicinity
dare its perils for the allurement of its fertile soil. A ring of
populous villages encircles it, flourishing vineyards and olive
groves extend on all sides, and the hand of industry does not
hesitate to attack its threatening flanks. The intervals between
its death-dealing throes are so long that the peasants are always
ready to dare destruction for the hope of winning the means of life
from its soil.
THE RIVERS OF LAVA.
All this locality was now a field of terror and death. Down on the
vineyards and villages poured the smothering ashes in an ever
increasing rain; toward them slowly and threateningly crawled the
fiery serpents of the lava streams; and from their homes fled
thousands of the terror-stricken people, frantic with horror and
dismay. A number of populous villages were threatened by the lurid
lava streams, the most endangered being Bosco Trecase, with its
10,000 inhabitants. Toward this devoted town poured steadily the
irresistible flood of molten rock. The soldiers who had been
hurried to the front sought to divert its flow by digging a wide
ditch across its course and throwing up a high bank of earth, but
they worked in vain. The demon of destruction was not to be robbed
of its prey. The liquid stream advanced like a colossal serpent of
fire, turning its head like a crawling snake to the right and left,
but keeping steadily on toward the fated town. The ditch was
filled; the bank gave way; the first house was reached and burst
into flames; the creeping stream of fire pushed on to the next
houses in its way; only then did the despairing people desert their
homes and flee for their lives, carrying with them the little they
could snatch of their treasured possessions.
F. Marion Crawford, the novelist, who was present at this scene,
thus describes the flight of the terrified people:
"I saw men, women and children and infants, whose mothers carried
them at the breast or in their aprons, fleeing in an endless
procession. Dogs, too, and cats were on the carts, and sometimes
even chickens, tied together by the legs, and piles of mattresses
and pillows and shapeless bundles of clothes. All were white with
dust. Under the lurid glare I saw one old woman lying on her back
across a cart, ghastly white and, if not dead already of fear and
heat and suffocation, certainly almost gone. We ourselves could
It was on Saturday, the 7th, that Bosco Trecase became the prey of
the river of molten rock. During that night and the following day
the crisis of the eruption came. The observatory on the mountain
side was occupied by Professor Matteucci, his assistant, Professor
Perret, of New York, and two domestics, all others having been sent
away. Their description of the scene in which they found
themselves is vividly picturesque. At midnight the situation in
the observatory was terrible. The forces of the earthquake were
let loose and the ground rocked so that it was almost impossible to
stand. The roaring of the main crater was deafening, while the
volcano poured forth its contents like a fountain, and the electric
display was terrifying, constant claps of thunder following the
lurid flashes of lightning, which gave the sky a blood-red hue.
Shortly after three o'clock in the morning the explosive energy of
the mighty mass culminated. The whole cone burst open with a
tremendous earthquake shock, from the heart of the recently silent
mountain came a deafening roar, and red-hot rocks, like the balls
from nature's mighty artillery, were hurled a half mile into the
air, while a dense mass of ashes and sand was flung to three or
four times this height. All the next day the terrible detonation
kept up, and a hail of bullet-like stones poured downward from the
skies. Rarely has a more terrible Sunday been seen. It was as if
the demons of earth and air were let loose and were seeking to
destroy man and his puny works.
THE CRISIS OF THE ERUPTION.
This frightful explosion of the 8th of April was the worst of the
dreadful display of volcanic forces, but the work kept up with
diminishing intensity much of the following week. The ashes and
cinders continued to pour down in suffocating showers, covering the
ground to a depth of four or five feet in the vicinity of the
volcano and to a considerable depth at Naples, ten miles away. The
sun disappeared behind the thick cloud that filled the air, and the
scene resembled that described by Pliny more than eighteen hundred
Of Bosco Trecase nothing was left but the large stone church and a
few houses. Another river of lava reached the outskirts of Torre
del Greco, and a third stopped at the cemetery of Torre Annunziata.
Those towns escaped, but thousands of acres of fertile cultivated
land, with farm houses and stock, were destroyed. The peninsular
railway up the mountain was ruined and the large hotel burned. One
writer tells the following tale of what he saw on that fatal
Saturday and Sunday:
"On the road I met hundreds of families in flight, carrying their
few miserable possessions. The spectacle of collapsing carts and
fainting women was frequently seen. When one reached the lava
stream a stupefying spectacle presented itself. From a point on
the mountain between the towns I saw four rivers of molten fire,
one of which, 200 feet wide and over 40 deep, was moving slowly and
majestically onward, devouring vineyards and olive groves. I
witnessed the destruction of a farm house enveloped on three sides
by lava. Immediately overhead the great crater was belching
incandescent rock and scoria for an incredible distance. The whole
scene was wreathed with flames, and a perpetual roar was heard.
Ever and anon the cone of the volcano was encircled with vivid
electric phenomena, amid which a downpour of liquid fire on all
sides of the crater was revealed in magnificent awfulness. In the
evening there was a frightful shock of earthquake, which was
repeated at two o'clock on Sunday morning. Simultaneously the lava
streams redoubled their onrush, and men, women and children fled
precipitately toward the sea. The lava had invaded the road behind
A REIGN OF TERROR.
The great loss of life was due to the vast fall of ashes, which
crushed in hundreds of roofs and buried the occupants within the
ruins of their homes. In all the neighboring towns buildings were
destroyed in great numbers, an early estimate being that fully
5,000 houses had been partly crushed or utterly destroyed. On the
Ottajano side of the mountain, where the ashes fell in greatest
profusion, all the houses of the villages were damaged, and
Ottajano itself was left a wreck, several hundred dead bodies being
taken from its ruins. In Naples the ash fall was so incessant that
those who could afford it wore automobile coats, caps and goggles,
while the people generally sought to save their eyes and faces by
the aid of paper masks and umbrellas. The drivers of trolley cars
were obliged to wear masks of some transparent material under the
vizors of their caps.
DISASTERS AT SAN GIUSEPPE AND NAPLES.
There were two special disasters attended by serious loss of life.
On the 9th, while a congregation of two hundred or more were
attending mass in the church at San Giuseppe, the roof crushed in
from the weight of ashes upon it and fell upon the worshippers
below, few or none of whom escaped unhurt. Fifty-four dead bodies
were taken from the ruins and a large number were severely injured.
The Mayor of the town was dismissed from his office for leaving his
post of duty in the face of danger.
The second disaster, one of the same character, took place at
Naples. This was on Tuesday, April 10th. Just previous to it the
people had been marching in religious processions through the
streets, to render thanks for the apparent cessation of the
activity of Vesuvius. Motley but picturesque processions were
these, headed by boys carrying candles, which burned simply in the
full sunshine and bearing aloft images of the Madonna or saints,
clad in gorgeous robes of cheap blue or yellow satin. Their joy
was suddenly changed to grief by tidings of a frightful disaster.
The roof of the Monte Oliveto market, fronting on the Toledo, the
main thoroughfare, had suddenly crushed in, burying more than 200
people beneath its heavy fall.
The market had been crowded with buyers and their children, and it
was the busiest hours of the day in the great roofed courtyard,
covering a space 600 feet square, when, with scarcely a tremor of
warning, there came a frightful crash and a dense cloud of dust
covered the scene, from out of which came heartrending screams of
agony. The volcanic ash which, unnoticed, had gathered thickly on
the roof, had broken it in by its weight.
The news set the people frantic with grief and indignation. They
insisted that the authorities knew that the roof was unsafe and had
neglected their duty. Cursing and screaming in their intense
excitement, they surrounded the market, endeavoring with frantic
haste to remove the heavy beams from beneath which came the
appealing calls for help, many of the rescuers sobbing aloud as
they worked. It required a large force of police and soldiers to
keep them back and permit the firemen and other trained workers to
carry on more systematically the work of relief. Twelve persons
proved to have been killed, two fatally injured, twenty-four
seriously hurt and over a hundred badly bruised and cut. Among
these were many children, whose parents had sent them to do the
marketing without a dream of danger, and the grief of the parents
was intense. The Duke of Aosta, Prefect of Naples, directed the
work of rescue, while his wife assisted in the care of the injured.
As the Duchess bent in the hospital to give a cooling drink to a
badly bruised little girl she felt a kiss upon her hand. Looking
down, she saw a woman kneeling at her feet, who gratefully said:
"Your Excellency, she is all I have. I am a widow. May God reward
While this scene of horror was taking place in Naples the fate of
the town and villages grouped around the foot of the volcano seemed
as hopeless as ever. Early on the 10th the showers of ashes and
streams of lava diminished and almost ceased, but later the same
day they began again, and the terrified inhabitants feared that a
catastrophe like that which buried Pompeii and Herculaneum was
about to visit them. The lava which reached the cemetery of Torre
Annunziata turned in the direction of Pompeii as if to freshly
entomb that exhumed city of the past. A violent storm of
sulphurous rain fell at San Giuseppe, Vesuviana and Sariano, and on
all sides the fall of sand and ashes came on again in full
strength. Even with the sun shining high in the heavens the light
was a dim yellow, in the midst of which the few persons who still
haunted the stricken towns moved about in the awful stillness of
desolation like gray ghosts, their clothing, hair and beards
covered with ashes.
THE ERUPTION RESUMED.
A typical case was that of Torre del Greco. Though for thirty
hours the place had been deserted, a few ghostly figures could be
seen at intervals when the vivid flashes of lightning illuminated
the gloom-covered scene, wandering desolately about, hungry and
thirsty, their throats parched by smoke and dust, yet unable to
tear themselves away from the ruins of their late comfortable
So deep was the ash fall that railway or tramway travel to the
inner circle of towns was impossible, and the great depth of fallen
dust choked the roads so as to render travel by carriage or on foot
very difficult. A party of officials made a tour of inspection by
automobile, visiting a number of the town, but were prevented by
the state of the roads from reaching others. Ottajano was thus cut
off from travel, and a heavy fall of ashes followed the officials
in their retreat. At Bosco Trecase the lava had gathered into a
lake, already growing solid on top, but a mass of liquid rock
The lava carried vast masses of burnt stone and sulphur on its
surface, like dross on melted lead, and nothing was visible toward
Bosco Trecase but endless acres of dark scoriae, broken here and
there by the greenish, curling smoke of sulphur. At one point a
great cone pine tree, torn up by its roots and turned to black
charcoal, stuck out of the mass at a sharp angle. The air was
almost unbearable, the heat intense, and few could long bear the
dangers and discomfort of the situation.
SCENES OF HORROR.
The greatest depth of ashes encountered was in the vicinity of
Ottajano. Here large areas were buried to a depth of several feet.
Soldiers had been sent there with military carts, carrying
provisions and surgical appliances, with orders to lend their aid
in the work of relief. They found it almost impossible to make
their way through the deep fine dust, and the tales of horror and
heroism they had to tell resembled those that must of old have been
borne to Rome by the fleeing inhabitants of Pompeii.
Efforts were made to remove the children and old persons in the
carts, but when these had gone a few hundred feet it was found
that, although there were four horses harnessed to each vehicle,
they could not pull their loads through the ashes. This caused a
panic among the children, who expected to be buried in the
incessant fall from the volcano, and they fled in all directions in
the darkness and blinding rain. Searching parties went after them,
but in spite of continuous shouting and calling no trace was found
of the little ones, and numbers of the children were undoubtedly
smothered by the ashes and sand.
Many of the inhabitants had been buried in the ruins of their
houses, and the scenes when the victims were unearthed were often
piteous and terrible. The positions of the bodies showed that the
victims had died while in a state of great terror, the faces being
convulsed with fear. Three bodies were found in a confessional of
one of the fallen churches. One body was that of an old woman who
was sitting with her right arm raised as though to ward off the
advancing danger. The second was that of a child about eight years
old. It was found dead in a position, which would indicate that
the child had fallen with a little dog close to it and had died
with one arm raised across its face, to protect itself and pet from
the crumbling ruins. The third body, that of a woman, was reduced
to an unrecognizable mass. These three victims were reverently
laid side by side while a procession of friends and relatives
offered up prayers beside them.
One soldier rode his horse through the ashes reaching up to its
flanks, calling out, "Who wants help?" He was rewarded by hearing
a woman's voice reply in weak tones and, springing from his horse,
he floundered through the ashes to the ruined walls of a house from
which the voice seemed to come. As he made his way through the
soft, treacherous layer of scoriae which surrounded the destroyed
habitation, and with difficulty worked his way toward the building
the soldier shouted words of encouragement and, climbing over a
heap of ruins and braving a toppling wall, entered the building.
In the cellar he found the bodies of three children. Near them was
a woman, barely alive, who by almost superhuman efforts for hours
had succeeded in freeing herself from a mass of debris which had
fallen upon her. The soldier picked the woman up in his arms and
carried her to a place of safety. It was found that both legs were
broken and that she had been badly crushed about the body.
Some extraordinary escapes from death took place. A man and his
four children were rescued after having been lost in the ash-
covered wilderness for fifty-six hours. They were terribly
exhausted, and were reduced almost to skeletons.
Robert Underwood Johnson, one of the editors of the "Century
Magazine, who happened to be in Rome at the time of the eruption,
made one of a party who ventured as near the scene of destruction
as they could safely approach. From his graphic story of his
experiences we copy some of the most interesting details.
AN AMERICAN OBSERVER.
"We caught a train for Torre Annunziata, three miles this side of
Pompeii and two miles from the southern end of the wedge of lava
which destroyed Bosco Trecase. We had a magnificent view of the
eruption, eight miles away. Rising at an angle of fifty degrees,
the vast mass of tumult roundness was beautifully accentuated by
the full moon, shifting momentarily into new forms and drifting
south in low, black clouds of ashes and cinders reaching to Capri.
At Torre del Greco we ran under this terrifying pall, apparently a
hundred feet above, the solidity of which was soon revealed in the
moonlight. The torches of the railway guards added to the effect,
but greatly relieved the sulphurous darkness.
"We reached Torre Annunziata at three in the morning. There was
little suggestion of a disaster as we trudged through the sleeping
town to the lava, two miles away. The brilliant moon gave us a
superb view of the volcano, a gray-brown mass rising, expanding and
curling in with a profile like a monstrous cyclopean face. But
nothing in mythology gives a suggestion of the fascination of this
awful force, presenting the sublime beauty above, but in its
descent filled with the mysterious malignance of God's underworld.
"We reached the lava at a picturesque cypress-planted cemetery on
the northern boundary of Torre Annunziata. It was as if the dead
had effectually cried out to arrest the crushing river of flames
which pitilessly engulfed the statue of St. Anne with which the
people of Bosco Reale tried to stay it, as at Catania the veil of
St. Agathe is said to have stayed a similar stream from Mount Etna.
"We climbed on the lava. It was cool above but still alive with
fire below. We could see dimly the extent of the destruction
beyond the barrier of brown which had enclosed the streets, torn
down the houses, invaded the vineyards and broken Cook's railways.
A better idea of the surroundings was obtained at dawn from the
railway. We saw north what was left of Bosco Trecase--a great,
square stone church and a few houses inland in a sea of dull, brown
lava. North and east rose a thousand patches of blue smoke like
swamp miasma. All was dull and desolate slag, with nowhere the
familiar serpentine forms of the old lava streams. In terrible
contrast with the volcanic evidences were strong cypresses and
blooming camelias in a neighboring cemetery.
"We ate a hasty luncheon before sunrise, when the great beauty of
the scene was revealed. The column now seemed higher and more
massive, rising to three times the height of Vesuvius. Each
portion had a concentric motion and new aspects. The south edges
floating toward the sea showed exquisite curved surfaces, due to
the upper moving current. It was like the decoration of the side
of a great sarcophagus. As a yellow dust hangs over Naples and
hides the volcano, I count myself fortunate to have seen all day
from leeward this spectacle of changing, undiminishing beauty.
"The wedge of cultivated land ruined east of the volcano extended
at least ten miles, with a width of twenty or thirty miles. Fancy
a rich and thickly populated country of vineyards lying under three
to six inches of ashes and cinders of the color of chocolate with
milk, while above, to the west, the volcano in full activity is
distributing to the outer edges of the circle the same fate, and
you will get an idea of the desolate impression of the scene, a
tragedy colossal and heartrending. Like that of Calabria, it
enlists the sympathy of the civilized world. It takes time for
such a calamity to be realized.
"Two miles below San Giuseppe we struck cinders which the soldiers
were shoveling, making a narrow road for the refugees. Our wagon
driver begged off from completing his contract to take us to San
Giuseppe. We had not the heart to insist, so the rest of the
journey to the railway at Palma, eight miles, was made laboriously
on foot for three hours through sliding cinders.
"In many places temporary shelters had been built by the roadside,
like children's playhouses. Here women were huddled with their
bedding, awaiting the coming of supplies which the army had begun
to distribute. The men were largely occupied with shoveling
cinders from the stronger roofs and floors into heaps three to six
feet deep along the roadside. Many two-wheeled carts loaded with
salvage, drawn by donkeys or pushed by peasants, were making their
way along, the women with bundles on their heads or carrying
"In the square of San Giuseppe was an encampment of soldiers, with
low tents. Near a destroyed church, in coarse yellow linen
shrouds, were the bodies of thirty-three of the persons who there
lost their lives. The peasants were sad, but uncomplaining; in
fact, for so excitable a people they were wonderfully calm. As
evidence of the thrift and self-respect of these, we were not once
asked for alms during the afternoon."
THE KING AT THE FRONT.
The Italian Government did all it could at the moment to alleviate
the horrors of the situation, sending money to be expended in
relief work and dispatching high officials of the government to
give aid and encouragement by their presence. The King, Victor
Emmanuel, and Queen Helene reached the scene of destruction as
early as possible and lent their personal assistance to the work of
Obliged to leave his automobile, which could not move over the
cinder-choked road, the King went forward with difficulty on
horseback, the animal floundering through four feet of ashes,
stumbling into holes, and half blinded by the fall of dust and
"How did you escape?" he asked a priest whom he met in his journey.
"I put myself in safety," was the reply.
"What do you mean?" asked the King.
"Realizing the danger, I left Nola."
"What!" cried the King, with a flush of anger. "You, a minister of
God, were not here to share the danger of your people and
administer the last sacraments? You did very wrong and forgot your
Reaching Ottejano, the King did what he could to expedite the work
of rescue at that central point of disaster, more than a hundred
dead bodies being taken from the ruins in his presence. He stood
with set pale face watching the removal of the victims and
directing the movement of the workers. During his visit at the
front he inspected the temporary camp hospitals, in which the
soldiers were caring for the injured and suffering, speaking to the
poor victims, giving them what comfort he could, and asking what he
could do to relieve their distress. Every request or desire was
received with sympathy and orders given to have it fulfilled.
A pitiful scene took place when the King bent over a poor man,
whose right leg had been amputated, and asked what he could do to
comfort and aid him in his affliction.
"Send me my son, who is serving as a soldier," said the maimed
The King, visibly affected, clasped the old man's hand and
"My poor fellow! I can do much, but to grant your request would
mean breaking the laws, which I must be the first to respect. I
would give anything I have were it possible by so doing to send
your son to you, but I cannot do so."
While the King was thus engaged at the scenes of desolation, Queen
Helene visited the charitable institutions at Naples and inspected
the places where the refugees were housed, doing what she could to
improve conditions and add to the comfort of the sufferers. The
Princess of Schleswig-Holstein, who was in Naples, made an
automobile visit to the afflicted towns, but the motor broke down,
and she was forced to return on foot, walking a distance of twelve
miles through the ashes and displaying a power of endurance that
surprised the natives.
THE CANOPY OF DUST.
By Friday, April 13th, the eruption was practically at an end.
Vesuvius had spent itself in the enormous convulsion of the 7th and
8th and the subsequent minor explosions and had returned to its
normal state, ceasing to give any signs of life, except the cloud
of smoke which still rose from its crater and spread like a thick
curtain over and around the mountain. Looked at from Naples, there
was none of the familiar aspects of the volcano, with its output of
smoke and ashes by day and fiery gleam by night. Now it lay buried
in darkness and obscurity, clothed in a dense pall of smoke. At
Rome there was sunshine, but twenty miles south hung a misty veil,
and twenty-five miles above Naples a zone of semi-obscurity began,
blotting out the sun, whose light trickled through with a sickly
glare. Everything was whitened with powdery dust; pretty white
villas were daubed and dripping with mud, and people were busy
shoveling the ashes from their roofs.
The crowds at the stations resembled millers, their clothes flour
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