Golden Fire Hydrant.

Gold Fire Hydrant - 1906 Earthquake

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

On April 18, 1906, in the immediate aftermath of the massive San Francisco earthquake and devastating fires, a single fireplug, "The Little Giant," saved the Mission District from burning up.

The earthquake, estimated to have been a 7.8 magnitude rupture along the San Andrea fault, rumbled through at 5:45 am. Water mains broke all over the city, cisterns were dry, and as more buildings caught fire, firefighters were overwhelmed. The conflagration ate whole neighborhoods, expanding south towards the Mission.

Golden Fire Hydrant.

At the last moment, someone discovered a working hydrant up the hill on Church St. The horse team pulling a fire wagon was exhausted and couldn't get up the incline. Hundreds of refugees and residents pushed the equipment to the fireplug, which became a hydraulic hub for several days.

Amazingly, the little hydrant is still connected to municipal water mains, and is in service. It might have a tough time saving the Mission District now, at least during our visit, when a hybrid SUV driver was obstinately parked up against it while he yakked on his phone.

Every year since the 1960s, on April 18 at 5:45 am, a ceremony is held in which relatives of the disaster's survivors spray-paint the hydrant with a fresh gold coat. A plaque in the sidewalk notes its prowess.

Gold Fire Hydrant - 1906 Earthquake

Address:
Church St., San Francisco, CA
Directions:
20th St. and Church St., SW corner of Mission Dolores Park on the east side of Church as it starts to climb the hill.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

826 Valencia: Pirate Supply Store826 Valencia: Pirate Supply Store, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
Paxton Gate - Taxidermy ArtPaxton Gate - Taxidermy Art, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
Cement SlidesCement Slides, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Woody, Carved Redwood Fish, Woodside, CA - 25 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in California

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in California.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

California Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Roswell Alien Attraction Autopsy, Roswell, New Mexico (Jun 21-27, 2021)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special rates for hotels.

Book Now