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    A light earthquake was recorded on March 26, 1872, in San Francisco by Thomas Tennant, the weather observer, though most people in the city did not feel it. It was later found to have struck at Owens Valley, Inyo County, killed at least 30 people, and was the worst earthquake in the state since the 1868 disaster in San Francisco.

    Naturalist John Muir was near the epicenter of the 1872 earthquake, and wrote of it in his book “Our National Parks.”

    April’s edition of the San Francisco Real Estate Circular attempted to put earthquake fears to rest with an editorial which read: “San Francisco is in very little more danger of a disastrous earthquake than the Eastern States of being flooded by a overflow of the Atlantic ocean.”

    A Chronicle representative at Lone Pine sent this report, which detailed some of the Inyo County damage.

The earthquake which occurred at half past 2 o’clock on the morning of Tuesday, March 26th, was the greatest convulsion of nature that has taken place in the United States since 1812.

Although it was felt from Oregon to Central America and Mexico, it seems to have spent its force in the Owens river region, distant from this city hundreds of miles, and lying on the opposite side of the Sierra Nevada on the line of the state of Nevada. Independence and other settlements in the the locality suffered from the disastrous effects, but it was the fate of Lone Pine in Inyo County to be marked for destruction as the center of the earth’s convulsive action.

The first great shock laid in ruins all the adobe buildings in the place and caused the death of 30 persons. During the ensuing week it was computed that more than a thousand shocks were felt —in other words, the earth was almost constantly trembling.

One of the tragic deaths was that of Antonia Montoya, a misguided young Mexican woman, who on the fearful night shared her couch with a paramour. Of this, our correspondent at Lone Pine writes:

“The shock startled them out of their sleep—the woman to scream and pray, the man to bound out of bed and at once leap clear of the building with its treacherous roof and crumbling walls.

“She had been caught in the bed by a mass of adobes and screamed vainly for help. Had the man not been one of the basest of the devil’s creatures he might have lingered a couple of minutes and released his paramour from her terrible strait; but the coward heard only to disregard, and in his mighty selfishess the craven creature fled alone, leaving the poor woman to perish miserably in the ruins.”

San Francisco Chronicle
April 21, 1872