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San Francisco’s population was approximately 410,000 people at the time of the earthquake, so this Southern Pacific evacuation, noted below, alone would account for the movement of more than fifty percent of the population by rail. Given that an additional 20- to 30-thousand were evacuated by the Navy from the area of Fort Mason, this may be one of the largest evacuations in history. It should be noted that these figures do not account for passengers fleeing the city from the Ferry Building on the ferries to Oakland. An August 1906 Southern Pacific news release placed the total number evacuated by the company at 300,000.

By comparison, the nine-day Dunkirk evacuation (May 26-June 4, 1940) moved, from France to England, some 300,000 Allied troops cut off by the German advance on Channel ports.

Between 6 a.m., Wednesday, April 18th, and Sunday night the Southern Pacific ran 129 trains, with over 900 cars to the main line and local and eastern points, carrying free refugees from San Francisco. During the same time 610 suburban trains were run from Oakland pier with 4880 cars, and a total of 739 trains with 5783 cars. During the same period about 50 trains with 500 cars, were run from points between Third and Townsend streets and Ocean View to the south.

The number of people carried exceeded 225,000. The value of the transportation issued free by the Southern Pacific at San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Vallejo to people has, at a rough estimate, to date, exceeded $400,000. The free freight transportation cannot be estimated at the present time.

The eight information bureaus established in different sections of San Francisco by the Southern Pacific are now being supplied by automobile service every two hours with the latest information concerning transportation. Two agents are in charge at each place. Destitute people desiring free transportation or reduced-rate transportation should endeavor to arrange credentials there to be used at the Southern Pacific offices, ground floor, Union Ferry building, Oakland pier; San Pablo avenue, near Broadway, Oakland and Sixteenth street, Oakland. There is no change in the present instructions as to issuing free transportation, but able-bodied men should to expect to stay in town unless their friends or families are at some other point and they feel it necessary to reach them.


Train service on the Coast division was resumed yesterday. Coast line trains 21 and 22, which have been operating between Third and Townsend street, San Francisco, and Los Angeles via San Jose, will be resumed, but the northern terminal will be at Oakland pier instead of Third and Townsend streets, running via Niles and San Jose.

Creek route ferry service will be established tomorrow with boats leaving from the foot of Broadway, Oakland, and from San Francisco, every hour.

The Southern Pacific and the California Northwestern have established ferry service between Sausalito in the morning, touching Tiburon and going directly to Oakland pier. It will leave Oakland pier for return trip in the afternoon. Schedule will be announced later.

Service between Alameda mole and Wright’s Station [in the Santa Cruz Mountains], on the narrow-gauge, via San Jose and Los Gatos will be re-established, probably today, with broad-gauge trains, narrow-gauge trains being discontinued permanently. The narrow-gauge between Wright’s Station and Felton will not be opened for some considerable time. Service to Boulder Creek will be via Watsonville and Santa Cruz.

A military train arrived Wednesday from Philadelphia with three tourist sleepers, having 100 men with officers.

A medical special is due tonight from Chicago with seventy-five nurses and doctors for the relief camps.

The Eastern lines will today establish offices in the Union Ferry building, each having been granted 100 feet of space.

San Francisco Chronicle
April 25, 1906

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