Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1987

Earthquake rocks Southern California

An earthquake in Whittier, California, kills 6 people and injures 100 more on this day in 1987. The quake was the largest to hit Southern California since 1971, but not nearly as damaging as the Northridge quake that would devastate parts of Los Angeles seven years later.

Whittier is a small town south of Los Angeles best known as President Richard Nixon’s hometown. At 7:42 a.m. on October 1, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted Whittier and the surrounding area for a full 30 seconds, violently shaking people out of their beds and causing unsecured items to crash to the floors in homes throughout the region. Several fires were ignited when gas lines were severed by the earth’s movement. Falling debris killed six people and the earthquake caused the area’s major highways to be shut down. Despite the strong tremors, there were no major building collapses.

A long series of aftershocks rocked Southern California for days after the earthquake. Reluctant to return to their homes, hundreds of people camped out in public parks for several days. Meanwhile, hospitals were evacuated as a precaution. Some looting was reported during the chaos, but it was not a widespread problem.

It is estimated that the Whittier earthquake caused $100 million in damages.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

2017 Las Vegas Shooting

On this day in 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800. Although the shooting only lasted 10 minutes, the death and injury tolls made this massacre the deadliest mass ...read more

Lawrence of Arabia captures Damascus

A combined Arab and British force captures Damascus from the Turks during World War I, completing the liberation of Arabia. An instrumental commander in the Allied campaign was T.E. Lawrence, a legendary British soldier known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence, an Oxford-educated ...read more

Nazi war criminals sentenced at Nuremberg

On October 1, 1946, 12 high-ranking Nazis are sentenced to death by the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of ...read more

Yosemite National Park established

On this day in 1890, an act of Congress creates Yosemite National Park, home of such natural wonders as Half Dome and the giant sequoia trees. Environmental trailblazer John Muir (1838-1914) and his colleagues campaigned for the congressional action, which was signed into law by ...read more

Roger Maris breaks home-run record

On October 1, 1961, New York Yankee Roger Maris becomes the first-ever major-league baseball player to hit more than 60 home runs in a single season. The great Babe Ruth set the record in 1927; Maris and his teammate Mickey Mantle spent 1961 trying to break it. After hitting 54 ...read more

Jimmy Carter is born

On this day in 1924, future President James Earl Carter is born in Plains, Georgia. Carter, who preferred to be called “Jimmy,” was the son of a peanut farmer and was the first president to be born in a hospital. Carter was raised a devoted Southern Baptist and graduated from the ...read more

A 12-year-old girl is kidnapped

Polly Klaas is abducted at knifepoint by an intruder in her Petaluma, California, home during a slumber party with two friends. Despite a massive manhunt and national attention, there was no sign of the missing 12-year-old or her abductor for two months. Eventually, investigators ...read more

Rose Greenhow dies

Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast when a Yankee craft runs her ship aground. She was returning from a trip to England. At the beginning of the war, Maryland native Rose O’Neal Greenhow lived in Washington, D.C., with her four children. Her ...read more