The Devastating Southern Arizona Earthquake of 1887

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Photo Caption:  A view of the fissures on the eastern face of Bucky O’Neill Hill in Bisbee about 1910.  Local ledged states these cracks were the result of the 1887 earthquake.  However, the fractures were actually a result of subsidence that took place due to mining in the area.  Photo Courtesy of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum.

Photo Caption: A view of the fissures on the eastern face of Bucky O’Neill Hill in Bisbee about 1910. Some locals claim these cracks were the result of the 1887 earthquake. However, the fractures were actually a result of subsidence that took place due to mining in the area. Photo Courtesy of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum.

Editor's Note: at the time of the devastating Southern Arizona Earthquake of 1887, there were only about 90,000 people living in all of Arizona Territory. The following account was written by Henry Bethea for The Copper Chronicles, a joint project of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum & Bisbee’s KBRP Radio Station. He holds the copyright and this article is reproduced here with permission. Geologists tell us that quakes along this fault occur about ever 100,000 years.

1887 Earthquake

May 3, 1887 was just another mid-spring day in Bisbee with pleasant weather, men toiling in the mines, stores going about their business, kids in school, donkey trains hauling wood and water, people busy making what was still a rough mining camp into a town and a place to call home.  Everything changed at 3:12 pm. Read More

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