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Barry Schrader


I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Quake 0f 1980 remembered 25 years later

By Barry Schrader..................................January 27, 2004

Those who were present in the Livermore Valley on January 24, 1980 at 11 a.m. know exactly where they were when the Big One hit. Those not yet living here should just ask any old timer about it and the stories will come flowing out.
The quake was a 5.5 on the Richter scale, lasted about 30 seconds, and was centered on the Greenville fault, which is about a mile east of town. Then about 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, Jan. 26 an aftershock measured 5.6 on the Richter, but only lasted about 10 seconds so did much less damage.
Dozens of people were injured, but none fatally, and millions of dollars in damage occurred, just at the Sandia and Lawrence national labs alone. The Greenville Road overpass on I-580 sunk 6 to 8 inches and the freeway had to be closed while repairs were made.
Wente Winery suffered a major loss when five big fermenting tanks holding more than 100,000 gallons toppled from their foundations. And there were some 94 mobile homes knocked off their foundations at the Sunrise Mobile Home Park in Springtown.
Around the valley, homes suffered varying degrees of damage, many losing china closets, precious knicknacks, pictures on the wall, and water heaters that toppled. At our house, two pictures fell from the wall and six inches of water sloshed out of our swimming pool.
Sandia saw some 13 employees injured, while LLNL reported 44 injuries, including one heart attack. Both labs evacuated employees and closed for the rest of the day, and in some sections of the labs, for two days while inspectors checked buildings for damage.
John Verity remembers. He was head librarian at Lawrence Lab and his bookshelves tumbled like dominoes. Between 10,000 and 20,000 volumes, mostly bound journals, lay in jumbled heaps on the floor. Fortunately, teams digging through the piles found no victims underneath.
The same was true at Sandia where library supervisor Gene Aas surveyed the books shaken off their shelves, but no injuries. Names were released later of the 13 Sandians needing medical attention. They included Don Gregson, Doyle Baker Clyde Taylor, Shelia Daigle, Jim Kersey, Paul Van Dyke, Bob Hofford, Wayne Townes, Dwight Soria, Brian Chamberlain, Carl Schoenfelder, Dave Dent, and Fred Hart. The giant 174,000 reserve fuel oil tank at Sandia was also wrenched from its foundation bolts and the sides buckled, but only a little fuel spilled over the sides. At LLNL the Shiva laser had to be re-alined after the quake snapped the bolts on both its foundation and target chambers.
Bob Becker and Gene Broadman, do you two remember? Then you're much older than I….
I was lucky that day as my office mate Lorena Schneider and I heard a sound like a freight train, saw our file drawers flying open, and books coming off shelves, so we dived under our respective metal desks at Sandia, staying there a few minutes until the building was evacuated.
If you have a personal Quake of 1980 experience to share, email or mail it to me and I will load it on my www.historydetectives.info website so others can reminisce with you about the shaker that taught us all that Mother Nature always comes out on top!

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Last week I listed US presidents and some of the candidates known to have visited here over the years. Right after that column appeared I got calls about others, so here they are: Bert Christensen, then 12 years old, was walking to Green School from his Altamont ranch in one day in 1928. He spotted a special-looking train on the Southern Pacific tracks and paused as it passed. The last car had a balcony and inside a man with a white starched collar waved at him. He soon learned it was President Herbert Hoover. Then in 1940 he was working as a clerk for Standard Oil in Livermore when he answered a phone call from the airport. On the line was an impatient First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, whose plane had landed here, short on fuel in bad weather. She wanted to get a fuel truck out to that plane ASAP so they could get airborne again.
P-town historian Charles Huff added some more facts. Checking the old Rose Hotel register, he found the names of Presidents Harding and Coolidge who had stopped in Pleasanton overnight on campaign swings by train through the area. Huff (and Jerry Pentin) also reminded me I forgot to mention that George W. Bush, Laura, and Sen. John McCain came through town on a whistlestop tour in 2000 when Bush was running for his first term. Both Huff and Pentin were there and heard the next President speak.
Then former BART director Bob Allen called with a political tidbit. In the
Spring of 1964 Barry Goldwater personally piloted his private plane to California on a campaign trip. As secretary of the local Goldwater for President Committee, Allen picked up the candidate at the old Sky Ranch airport near Rincon and Portola and drove him to the local chapter meeting where he spoke, then hopped back into his plane and soloed on to the next engagement. This was just prior to his being selected the GOP standard bearer, so the Secret Service wasn't accompanying him at that point. Plus Connie Duke remembers when Hillary Clinton stopped in the valley on a campaign swing through here in the late 1990s.
Please tell me if I missed any more, as I like to be as complete as possible in retracing history, and I sure missed a few VIPs this time!

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Now for the history mystery question for next time: What famous piece of history came through the valley in 1915?

The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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