The 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake: Roundhouse Foreman's Account

It goes without saying that there were many narrow escapes from personal injury and I will here set down two instances which bring out the peculiar effect on two men, ordinarily normal in every way. One of these is a boilermaker who was at the east end of the roundhouse. The bricks were falling from the east wall, huge pieces of masonry were thrown a distance of twelve feet, that portion of the roof over him crashed downward and came to rest on a locomotive. This man is of a bold and fearless nature, yet in this crisis he was so badly frightened that he lost the use of his legs; after a severe attack of nausea he managed to crawl out unassisted and uninjured.

The other is that of the stationary engineer, a man naturally timid and retiring. He was on duty at the east end of the house, and was struck on the head by a flying brick. At the same instant the steam pipe broke off at the boiler, the roar of the escaping steam, added to the tumult of falling walls and general confusion. Half-dazed, he crawled back through the debris and extinguished the fire in the boiler.

-W. H. Kirkbride, roundhouse foreman of the Southern Pacific Railroad, from the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 17, 1927.


View the snapped railroad tracks on Cabrillo Blvd along the beachfront (26 kb)

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