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An Account of Nevada's Largest Earthquake, the 1915 Pleasant Valley Earthquake(1)


The first indication of disturbance was felt at exactly 3:40 p.m. Saturday, 2nd inst., when with a terrific report, similar to a large dynamite blast, the mountain side of Kennedy gave a lurch due north and then vibrated for about five seconds in a manner which I would say was rather violent, considering California disturbances. This shock had hardly subsided when another deep rumble was heard, followed by swaying motion, which appeared to be in a northerly direction. From this time on it was one continuous disturbance; one quake hardly died before a rumble announced another. This state of affairs occurred continuously until 5:45 p.m. when the only indication that conditions were not right was a sort of subdued rumble, such as might be experienced were there a great cauldron boiling and bubbling under foot, just beneath the earth's surface. About this time the inhabitants at Kennedy apparently became accustomed to this condition and settled down satisfied that the disturbance had spent itself and was a thing of the past, when all of a sudden without the slightest warning a great roar was heard and the earth's surface began to roll and sway up and down, evidently in all directions. This convulsion continued without stop for fully one and a half minutes. This disturbance was in my estimation about twice as violent as that experienced in San Francisco in 1906.

During this performance of the earth it was next to impossible for a person to stand erect. From this disturbance on, it was incessant continued disturbance, the earth never appeared quiet. About 9 p.m. we retired for the night and as near as I can imagine the situation, one could shut his eyes and imagine he was occupying a berth in a moving Pullman car, accompanied with creakings and rattling of windows, to be abruptly awakened by outbreaks at intervals of twenty to thirty minutes, lasting from five to ten seconds. At 10:55 things had quieted, or perhaps we were unconscious in sleep, when without the slightest warning a great roar and rumbling was heard and we were thrown violently out of bed and buffeted in all directions continuously for not less than fifteen minutes. During this disturbance it would appear to tire itself and would hesitate for an instant as if it were changing hands and fumbling in trying to get a good grip and would then shake violently with the other hand; then it would change hands and repeat the operation. This shake started at 10:55 p.m. Western Union time, as recorded(2). I did not note the time of starting, but when the disturbance subsided sufficiently to allow
one to enter the house in quest of sufficient apparel, as it was next to freezing outside, I noted the time was 11:10 p.m.


(1)Account from Letter to the Editor of the Silver State, October 5, 1915 edition, by Leon St. D. Roylance.
(2)The best estimate for the origin time of the earthquake is approximately 10:53 p.m. PST on October 2, 1915.