There have been more than a dozen damaging earthquakes in the greater Bay Area in the last 200 years. Prior to 1906, the great earthquake of the Bay Area was the October 21st,1868 earthquake on the Hayward fault. For many years, it was thought that another damaging earthquake occurred in 1836 on the northern Hayward fault. That earthquake was relocated by Glenn Borchardt and Tousson Toppozada (1996) to the San Andreas fault near San Juan Batista.

A strong earthquake estimated to have been about magnitude 6.8 occurred in the East Bay at 7:50 am on October 21st, 1868 on the southern segment of the Hayward fault. Destruction occurred throughout the Bay Area. Almost every building in Hayward was damaged and many were completely wrecked. Photographs below are taken from the 1908 Carnegie Institute of Washington Report, “The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906, Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission”. This report, also called the Lawson Report, gives a detailed discussion of the effects of the 1868 Hayward earthquake,

Flour mill, Hayward.  Wrecked by earthquake of 1868.

Edmonson's warehouse, Hayward.  Wrecked by earthquake of 1868.

Pierce's house, Hayward.  Earthquake of 1868.

Courthouse, San Leandro.  Wrecked by earthquake of 1868.


Buildings in San Francisco that were on land-fill also suffered considerable damage in the
1868 Hayward earthquake.

Back to the Tour of the Hayward Fault

Copyright Dr. Sue Ellen Hirschfeld