Feb. 9, 1971, 6:01 a.m.

Downed freeway bridges in Newhall Pass. U.S. Geological Survey

Rubble of the San Fernando Valley Veterans Hospital in Sylmar. Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library; Below left, the site this past weekend. LA Observed.

sylmar-vets-park.jpgOn this day 40 years ago, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake broke at 6:01 a.m. Sylmar got its name on the event, but the epicenter was deep under the San Gabriel Mountains, in the San Fernando fault zone. The quake ripped open the surface for about 12 miles in the mountains and San Fernando Valley, knocked down parts of the SFV Veterans Hospital and Olive View hospital in Sylmar, toppled the same freeway interchange in Newhall Pass that fell again in the 1994 Northridge quake, caused landslides and set fires burning in city streets. Sixty-five people died, most of them at the VA hospital. Many more were left homeless, but the quake occurred early enough in the day that schools were unoccupied and the freeways were not crowded. A big swath of the Valley was evacuated for several days out of fear that the Lower Van Norman Dam in Granada Hills would fail.

Plaque at site of the razed VA hospital. LA Observed

More photos after the jump.

Gov. Ronald Reagan at downed VA hospital. Herald Examiner Collection, LAPL.

Fallen part of Olive View Hospital. Herald Examiner Collection, LAPL.

Ambulance at Olive View Hospital. USGS

Family outside of home damaged in Sylmar quake. Herald Examiner Collection, LAPL.

Displaced Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. USGS

More by Kevin Roderick:
Ralph Lawler of the Clippers and the age of Aquarius
Riding the Expo Line to USC 'just magical'
Last bastion of free parking? Loyola Marymount to charge students
Matt Kemp, Dodgers and Kings start big weekend the right way
LA Times writers revisit their '92 riots observations
Recent Quakes stories on LA Observed:
Quake in Michoacán, preliminary 7.0
Major earthquake hits near Oaxaca: 7.4 revised magnitude *
Channel 7 gets a jump on Japan tsunami anniversary
Looking back at the Sylmar quake after 41 years *
Dr. Lucy, the earthquake lady, profiled in Smithsonian

New at LA Observed
Follow us on Twitter

On the Media Page
Go to Media
On the Politics Page
Go to Politics

LA Biz Observed
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook