Faith Amongst the Rubble

June 29, 1925, Santa Barbara, CA (George Watson-photographer)

The June 25th 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake was a major event for the Northern California region, and its impact was slightly reminiscent of the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Santa Barbara earthquake had a duration of 19 seconds and a magnitude of 6.8 along with extreme aftershocks that hit the city repeatedly throughout the day and evening. Los Angeles Times Staff Photographer George Watson was dispatched immediately to capture the city’s wreckage and photographed Brother Lamm in an iconic image standing among the fallen debris of the mission’s damaged bell towers. Similarly, the San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, CA suffered a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in 1855 which resulted in its roof collapsing and its bells torn down. After being rebuilt, the San Gabriel Mission has survived, with relatively little damage, several major earthquakes in 1933 (Long Beach), 1971 (Sylmar-San Fernando), and 1987 (Whittier Narrows), earning it the nickname, “the Mission of Earthquakes.”

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