Blast from the Past: Redlands receives news of Imperial Valley earthquake in 1915

Six people were killed and many injured in the wreckage above in Mexicali, Mexico. (Photo: Carl H. Beal)

First news of earthquake

The first information of the Imperial Valley earthquake came to Redlands last evening at 9 o’clock when A.B. Cowgill received the following telegram from his son Ralph at El Centro: “Am O.K. Was in country at time. Much damage. None hurt.” As Mr. Cowgill had heard of no accident in the valley he was at a loss to understand what the message meant. He immediately came down town but could get no information save that W.F. Holt had received a wire telling of an earthquake and beyond this had no news until this morning.

E.H. Nahmens received a telegram this morning from his brother-in-law, John McClave, saying “Safe. Two buildings down. Two burned. Others injured.” This came from El Centro.

W.F. Holt received a wire from one of his superintendents at El Centro at 9 o’clock last night to the effect that the Delta Mercantile building had been damaged, together with the ice plant, power and gas plants.

Both telephone and telegraph communication was then lost and no further information could be had.

J.J. Suess, interested in the Imperial Valley Baking Company, received word from Otto Ohmsted, manager, saying, “Bad quake last night. Second story down. No one hurt.” Mr. Suess left for El Centro this forenoon.

Mr. Suess received another telegram just before he left for El Centro saying: “We have had a very heavy loss. May mean new building. El Centro, Heber and Calexico hit hard.”

W.T. Bill, largely interested in El Centro and one of the promoters of the town, received word today from Edgar Bros., occupants of one of his buildings, saying that the building was badly damaged and advising him to come. J. Warren Smith of Redlands, who was in the valley, also wired Mr. Bill that his hotel property, the old El Centro Hotel, was damaged. A.P. Nuffer, Mr. Bill’s agent, reported that things were in very bad shape but for him not to be alarmed. Mr. Bill went to the valley this morning.

Mr. Bill states that if there has been any loss of life it probably was over the border in Mexicali, where the buildings were of adobe and of very frail construction.

Damage to the Imperial Valley Bakery in El Centro, California,  after the earthquake of June 22, 1915. (Photo: Carl H. Beal)
Damage to the Imperial Valley Bakery in El Centro, California,
after the earthquake of June 22, 1915. (Photo: Carl H. Beal)