1952 Kern County Earthquake

Quick Facts

  • Date: July 21, 1952, 4:52 AM (PDT)
  • Casualties: 12
  • Magnitude: 7.5
  • Epicenter: 35° 00' N, 119° 02' W
  • Fault: White Wolf Fault
  • Type: Reverse Faulting, With a Left-Lateral Component


The 1952 Kern County Earthquake occured on what was then thought to be a relatively minor fault. The impact of the quake was enormous as it was felt in Reno, Nevada and San Francisco. Construction teams had to be called in at Las Vegas to repair structural steel damage. Power outages occured in the Los Angeles area and a building was even damaged as far south as San Diego. The earthquake caused massive damage to the agricultural industry in the Arvin area of the San Joaquin Valley forcing massive releveling of the land and damaged a mining operation in the Owens Lake area as well as a portion of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks near Bear Mountain.

Following the inital quake rose the land at least 4 feet in some places and was followed by at least 20 aftershocks of 5.0 magintude or greater. The 5th largest, a 5.8 quake, shook the already weak buildings of Bakersfield adding $10 million to the inital $50 million in damage and killed 2 people.

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