Mark Twain’s Speeches

Author: Mark Twain  | Date: 1906


After the address at the Robert Fulton Fund meeting, June 19, 1906, Mr. Clemens talked to the assembled reporters about the San Francisco earthquake.

I HAVEN’T been there since 1868, and that great city of San Francisco has grown up since my day. When I was there she had one hundred and eighteen thousand people, and of this number eighteen thousand were Chinese. I was a reporter on the Virginia City Enterprise in Nevada in 1862, and stayed there, I think, about two years, when I went to San Francisco and got a job as a reporter on The Call. I was there three or four years.

I remember one day I was walking down Third Street in San Francisco. It was a sleepy, dull Sunday afternoon, and no one was stirring. Suddenly as I looked up the street about three hundred yards the whole side of a house fell out. The street was full of bricks and mortar. At the same time I was knocked against the side of a house, and stood there stunned for a moment.

I thought it was an earthquake. Nobody else had heard anything about it and no one said earthquake to me afterward, but I saw it and I wrote it. Nobody else wrote it, and the house I saw go into the street was the only house in the city that felt it. I’ve always wondered if it wasn’t a little performance gotten up for my especial entertainment by the nether regions.


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Chicago: Mark Twain, "San Francisco Earthquake.," Mark Twain’s Speeches Original Sources, accessed June 16, 2024,

MLA: Twain, Mark. "San Francisco Earthquake." Mark Twain’s Speeches, Original Sources. 16 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Twain, M, 'San Francisco Earthquake.' in Mark Twain’s Speeches. Original Sources, retrieved 16 June 2024, from