The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.

About July 10, the captain of a Sicilian vessel reported that as he passed near the place he saw a column of water like a waterspout, sixty feet high, and 800 yards in circumference, rising from the sea, and soon after a dense rush of steam in its place, which ascended to the height of 1,800 feet.  The same captain, on his return eighteen days after, found a small island twelve feet high, with a crater in its centre, throwing forth volcanic matter and immense columns of vapor, the sea around being covered with floating cinders and dead fish.  The eruption continued with great violence to the end of the same month.  By the end of the month the island grew to ninety feet in height, and measured three-quarters of a mile round.  By August 4th it became 200 feet high and three miles in circumference; after which it began to diminish in size by the action of the waves.  Towards the end of October the island was levelled nearly to the surface of the sea.

Naval officers and foreign ministers alike took an absorbing interest in this new island.  The strong national thirst for territory manifested itself and eager mariners waited only till the new land should be cool enough to set foot on to strive who should be first to plant there his country’s flag.  Names in abundance were given it by successive observers,—­Nerita, Sciacca, Fernandina, Julia, Hotham, Corrao, and Graham.  The last holds good in English speech, and as Graham’s Island it is known in books to-day, though the sea took back what it had given, leaving but a shoal of cinders and sand.

The Bay of Santorin, in the island of that name, which lies immediately to the north of Crete, has long been noted for its submarine volcanoes.  According to one account, indeed, the whole island was at a remote period raised from the bottom of the sea; but this is questionable.  It is, with more reason, supposed that the bay is the site of an ancient crater, which was situated on the summit of a volcanic cone that subsequently fell in.  Certain it is that islands have from time to time been thrown up by volcanic forces from the bottom of the sea within this bay, and that some of them have remained, while others have sunk again.


Of the existing islands, some were thrown up shortly before the beginning of the Christian era; in particular, one called the Great Cammeni, which, however, received a considerable accession to its size by a fresh eruption in A. D. 726.  The islet nearest Santorin was raised in 1573, and was named the Little Cammeni; and in 1707 there was added, between the other two, a third, which is now called the Black Island.  This made its appearance above water on the 23rd of May, 1707, and was first mistaken for a wreck; but some sailors, who landed on it, found it to be a mass of rock; consisting of a very white soft stone, to which were adhering quantities of fresh oysters.  While they were collecting these, a violent shaking of the ground scared them away.

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The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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