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California History Trivia

California History Trivia Quizzes

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18 California History quizzes and 205 California History trivia questions.
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Lights, camera, action! The history of Hollywood is varied and interesting. Grab some popcorn and join us as we explore the history of the movie capital of the world.
Average, 10 Qns, tazman6619, Feb 11 24
tazman6619 gold member
Feb 11 24
357 plays
  A Bit of California History   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
This quiz is about a little of the history of my home state. I enjoyed writing it, and learned a few new things about this wonderful place.
Average, 10 Qns, robbieh, May 15 07
3064 plays
  San Francisco History   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 20 Qns
Here are some familiar and not-so-familiar stories and facts about San Francisco. Might be more challenging if you're not a local. Have fun!
Tough, 20 Qns, peche, May 17 10
1960 plays
  I Left My Heart In San Francisco   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
San Francisco's history is full of the questionable, colorful and downright strange.
Average, 10 Qns, kapulani3, Sep 10 13
712 plays
  History of Los Angeles    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Los Angeles may be one of the world's youngest big cities, but it has a vivid history that is difficult to squeeze into ten questions. How much do you know about California's largest city?
Average, 10 Qns, Joepetz, Jul 16 20
Joepetz gold member
Jul 16 20
287 plays
  California - History   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
A basic quiz on the history of the 31st State - written by a Limey!
Tough, 10 Qns, Baloo55th, Apr 13 04
2387 plays
  1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
With the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake now past, see what you know about one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
Difficult, 10 Qns, peche, Jul 28 09
1023 plays
  San Francisco Earthquake of 1906   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
After reading a book called "The Chase" by Clive Cussler, I became intrigued with the devastating earthquake in 1906 which destroyed a good portion of San Francisco early one morning.
Tough, 10 Qns, titanic97, Sep 10 13
631 plays
  A History of Los Angeles, City of Angels    
Multiple Choice
 15 Qns
Historical tidbits and facts about the U.S.A.'s second most populous city.
Tough, 15 Qns, 81gaucho, Jun 10 23
Jun 10 23
1170 plays
  1906 San Francisco Earthquake   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
At the time, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was the most devestating disaster the US had experienced.
Average, 10 Qns, katlee, Sep 17 23
Sep 17 23
636 plays
trivia question Quick Question
This gold-mining town in Death Valley is said to have taken its name from a slang in the early twentieth century.

From Quiz "Mining and Ghost Towns of California"

  Fort Ross, California   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Fort Ross was a Russian outpost in Northern California, on the Sonoma coast established in the 1800s to supply the agricultural needs of the Russian colonies in Alaska.
Tough, 10 Qns, Kvrad, Dec 20 15
162 plays
  Mining and Ghost Towns of California    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
This quiz is about old mining towns of California (some abandoned, but others still inhabited, if just barely). It includes well-known towns as well as some more obscure ones. How well do you know California's mining history? Find out!
Tough, 10 Qns, caribdevist, Apr 01 12
304 plays
  The Spanish Missions of California   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Do you know the history of the California missions?
Tough, 10 Qns, Taxicab3, Mar 27 08
614 plays
  Historic Catalina Island    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Just off the California Coast, 26 miles from Los Angeles, lies historic Catalina Island. Many people have never heard of it, including some people from Los Angeles, but it is a bit famous.
Tough, 10 Qns, eatgelato, Aug 26 09
349 plays
  Welcome to LaLaLand!    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Los Angeles -ahhh - palm trees, movie stars, oranges, O.J. Between 1870 and 1930, there was a major 'advertising' campaign to attract new residents. It was very successful, in fact too successful.
Difficult, 10 Qns, LaLaLoopy, Jul 21 14
263 plays
  California Governors    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
The Gipper, Governor Moonbeam, the Terminator: No state outflanks California for interesting governors.
Difficult, 10 Qns, sku, Jan 04 12
927 plays
  Bear Flag Revolt and Early Statehood    
Multiple Choice
 15 Qns
The Bear Flag revolt was the event which tore California from Mexican hands and initiated its transition into the U.S.A.
Difficult, 15 Qns, darthdragon, Oct 24 09
611 plays
  Early California: The Natives and the Spaniards    
Multiple Choice
 15 Qns
The early history of California is defined by the interactions between the natives and the European invaders who brought change to the economic, social and religious environment of the area.
Difficult, 15 Qns, darthdragon, Dec 07 07
559 plays
Related Topics
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  California Sports [Sports] (3 quizzes)

  Mixed California [General] (2 quizzes)

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  California [Geography] (51 quizzes)

  San Francisco [Geography] (7 quizzes)

California History Trivia Questions

1. For what purpose was the original Hollywoodland sign placed on Mount Lee?

From Quiz

Answer: As an advertisement for a housing development.

While the current sign only says Hollywood, the original was a 1923 advertisement for the Hollywoodland housing development. All the bells and whistles were brought out to make the sign noticeable from the gigantic wooden letters painted white to the 4,000 lights attached to the sign that blinked. Even a gigantic searchlight was below the sign making the unmissable even harder to miss. Originally, the sign was only going to be on display for a year and a half, but it became popular, and the community decided to leave it up. By 1933 the lights were switched off due to the expense and in 1949 the sign had to be refurbished with the "land" part of the sign being left off. In 1978 the sign was falling apart again and shock rocker Alice Cooper organized a campaign to refurbish it once more. The decision was made to replace the wooden letters with steel to help preserve it longer. Of course, countless times the Hollywood letters have appeared in pop culture making it one of the most easily recognizable landmarks in the world. This question was refurbished and polished by Phoenix Rising's non-shock rocker BigTriviaDawg.

2. What was the Spanish name given to the local Native Americans who lived in what is now Los Angeles prior to the arrival of Europeans?

From Quiz History of Los Angeles

Answer: Gabrielinos

The Spanish called the Native people Gabrielinos from the mission they set up in the area. The Gabrielinos were locally known as the Tongva who called their home Yaanga. They worshiped the creator God Chinigchinix and were primarily fishers and hunters. The Gabrielinos sold their goods to the Spanish who came from Mexico and also offered services such as digging ditches and building buildings.

3. With which government did the Russians deal in choosing their site for the new settlement?

From Quiz Fort Ross, California

Answer: None

The Spaniards claimed Alta California but had no settlements further north than San Francisco. Russian exploration along the coast north of the bay indicated no occupation by other European powers.

4. This gold-mining town in Mono County, which lasted from 1876 to around 1912, is now preserved as a California State Park.

From Quiz Mining and Ghost Towns of California

Answer: Bodie

Bodie,widely rated one of the best preserved ghost towns in the US, is also known for its somewhat extreme weather. Winter temperatures regularly drop below freezing, and the local topography frequently produces wind gusts that top 100 mph.

5. Catalina Island was first claimed by which explorers?

From Quiz Historic Catalina Island

Answer: A Spanish galleon looking for a route to the Far East.

Spaniard Juan Cabrillo "discovered" the island in 1542.

6. What time did the San Francisco Earthquake happen?

From Quiz San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Answer: 5:12 AM

On April 18, 1906, the earthquake rattled people from a peaceful sleep at around 5:12 AM. It killed over 3000 people when it was all over.

7. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 struck on what date?

From Quiz 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Answer: April 18

The quake struck at 5:13 AM on April 18th. The day before had been uncommonly warm - a warning perhaps?

8. What was the Richter scale magnitude of the earthquake that struck San Francisco at 5:12am on April 18, 1906?

From Quiz 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Answer: Between 7 and 8

Though early estimates put the magnitude at 8.3 on the Richter scale, modern analyses estimate that it was closer to 7.7 or 7.9. Many houses and businesses in San Francisco were built on liquefied soil or "bay fill", making them especially vulnerable to the earthquake's violent shaking.

9. In what year was the city of Los Angeles founded?

From Quiz A History of Los Angeles, City of Angels

Answer: 1781

After first arriving in the area in 1769, the Spanish founded "El Pueblo de Nuestra Se├▒ora la Reina de los Angeles de Porci├║ncula" or The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion in 1781.

10. When the Bear Flag Revolt began, who was in command of the Mexican military forces in California?

From Quiz Bear Flag Revolt and Early Statehood

Answer: Jose Castro

Mariano Vallejo was a subordinate of Castro and Santa Anna was in charge of everything down in Mexico.

11. Estanislao, a member of the Yokut tribe, was branded a outlaw by the Spanish for what crime?

From Quiz Early California: The Natives and the Spaniards

Answer: Rebellion

This rebellion was brought on by a number of factors including the rumored demise of the mission system, shaky Spanish military power in colonial California and widespread abuse of the natives.

12. What was discovered at Sutter's Mill in 1848?

From Quiz California - History

Answer: gold

John (Johann) Sutter was Swiss.

13. The San Francisco metro area has a transportation system called 'BART.' What does BART stand for?

From Quiz San Francisco History

Answer: Bay Area Rapid Transit

The BART electric train system started operating in 1972. It now has more than 100 miles of track, and has stations from SF to the East Bay and peninsula. The extension to SFO airport opened in 2003.

14. Which turn of the century inventor and industrialist tried to use patents to monopolize the early movie making industry, which in turn made Hollywood a desirable destination because it was far from his grasp?

From Quiz Hollywoodland

Answer: Thomas Edison

Edison was famous for using patents and the law to his advantage in business. A patent is only as good as the holder's willingness to defend it in court. If the holder does not exert his rights, then the patent is meaningless. Edison was wealthy enough and ruthless enough to use the patent system mercilessly. He formed the Motion Picture Patents Company, also known as the Edison Trust, in 1908 in an attempt to monopolize the early film making industry. On the East Coast in places like New York and Chicago, Edison had the resources in place to pursue his patent rights with relative ease. The cost of enforcing his patents on the West Coast, however, was prohibitive because it would take private detectives and California lawyers to sue in the state. For this reason, many independent film makers headed west. Beyond this, the US Ninth Circuit Court, based in San Fransisco, was not favorable to enforcing patents so early Hollywood began to flourish. It has also been postulated that the relative closeness of the Mexican border made California more attractive since the filmmakers could just head for the border to escape Edison. This, however, is more fanciful conjecture than provable fact. The distance from Edison's power base was enough to make the need to flee to Mexico highly unlikely. By 1915 the courts even in the East had ruled against Edison and his company for overreaching in what their patents protected but by that time the establishment of the film industry in California was well under way. Phoenix Rising's tazman6619 found Edison's business practices to be patently unfair and wrote this question in solidarity with the early independent pioneers of the movie industry.

15. The official founding day for Los Angeles is September 4, 1781 which is the day what happened?

From Quiz History of Los Angeles

Answer: The last Pobladores arrived in Los Angeles

The Pobladores were the first groups of families, forty-four people in total, who were the original Europeans (via Mexico) to settle permanently in Los Angeles. Although many families had arrived earlier in 1781, the date of September 4 is the given as the founding date because that is when the last family arrived to claim their land after having been in quarantine with smallpox. Some of the land given to the Pobladores was taken from the Native Americans who had been baptized Christian when they forced from the land.

16. On the verge of being lifted out of its obscure and lowly status, Los Angeles was touted as being...what?

From Quiz Welcome to LaLaLand!

Answer: The New Beulah Land

In "Pilgrim's Progress", John Bunyan stated that heaven could be seen from Beulah Land and L.A. boosters felt that even if their city wasn't heaven, you could see the promised land from its shores. Other hyperbolic names for the Los Angeles of the 1870s were "The Home of Sunlit Skies of Glory", "The Wonder City of the United States", and "The Home of Contented Labor." The Riviera name referred to the beautiful little town of Santa Barbara, a few hours north of Los Angeles and still a world-class destination.

17. Who established Fort Ross?

From Quiz Fort Ross, California

Answer: Ivan Kuskov

Commandant Kuskov was Senior Assistant to Baranov, the Chief Administrator of the Russian-American Company. He was reputedly a zealous administrator, with a great interest in exploiting natural resources such as the local redwood trees.

18. In 1967, which notorious leader began his cult in San Francisco before traveling to Los Angeles and prompting his followers to commit a string of murders that would traumatize the city?

From Quiz I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Answer: Charles Manson

Charles Manson had settled in San Francisco, where he met the first of who would become his followers, Mary Brunner. Manson moved in with Brunner and in short order, 18 other women moved in as well. The "family" spent most of the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco, before Manson and a group comprised of the hard-core followers set off on a road trip to Los Angeles.

19. Named after a mining town in Slovenia, this rural San Benito County town saw its mercury mines close in the 1970s, and has since fallen in extreme decay. It has been considered for listing as an EPA Superfund site in the years since.

From Quiz Mining and Ghost Towns of California

Answer: New Idria

Vandalism has resulted in heavy loss to the historic buildings in the town, which does not enjoy any protection, despite its being listed as a California Historical Landmark. The ownership of the land that the town is situated on is unclear, and some of the descendents of the former mine workers still imagine they have some claim to the property and are known to chase off visitors.

20. As was sometimes the tradition, the island was originally named after the ship that brought the discoverers there. Luckily, the name didn't stick as it shares the name of another famous place. What was the original name?

From Quiz Historic Catalina Island

Answer: San Salvador

The San Salvador was Cabrillo's main ship.

21. What was the estimated magnitude of the quake?

From Quiz San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Answer: 7.8

The magnitude of the quake was listed to be 7.8 on the Richter scale. However, some experts say that the quake measured anywhere from 7.7 to as high as 8.3 at the moment of the quake. Earthquakes are the sliding of plates which get stuck momentarily and then release the energy built up. This quake happened along the San Andreas fault which runs nearly the entire length of California.

22. What famous opera singer was in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake?

From Quiz 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Answer: Enrico Caruso

Enrico Caruso was on the last leg of his American tour. When he arrived in San Francisco all the reporters were asking him about the recent eruption of Mt. Vesuvius near his hometown. Naturally, they had no idea that they'd soon be in the thick of their own disaster.

23. Italian tenor Enrico Caruso appeared in what opera in San Francisco the night before the 1906 earthquake?

From Quiz 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Answer: Carmen

Caruso performed in "Carmen" on April 17, just hours before the earthquake struck. He had been scheduled to sing in Naples, Italy around the same time, but canceled that trip after Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Caruso never came back to San Francisco.

24. After Pio Pico became governor of California, where did he move the capital to?

From Quiz Bear Flag Revolt and Early Statehood

Answer: Los Angeles

The old capital of Monterey remained the military headquarters of Jose Castro.

25. This well known socialist was the 1934 Democratic nominee for Governor of California.

From Quiz California Governors

Answer: Upton Sinclair

The author of the "The Jungle" and other popular novels, Sinclair ran on a campaign platform known as EPIC (End Poverty in California). He was defeated by Republican Frank Merriam. Job Harriman was a California Socialist who ran for vice-president in 1900 and came close to being elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1911.

26. Who settled at Fort Ross in 1812?

From Quiz California - History

Answer: Russians

The Russians came further south than Alaska. (Russian claims to sovereignty were, however, rejected by Spain, Britain and the US).

27. The 1846 Siege of Los Angeles during the Mexican-American War was a win for which side?

From Quiz History of Los Angeles

Answer: Mexico & M

During the Mexican-American War, the U.S. had a firm grip on northern California but the southern part proved to be troublesome. In August 1846, John C. Fremont and Robert Stockton had conquered large parts of California. However, both Fremont and Stockton left Los Angeles to Archibald Gillespie. Gillespie was woefully underprepared to fight and underestimated the strong Mexican sentiment of the people, many of whom were of Mexican descent, living in Los Angeles at the time. He surrendered to Jose Maria Flores within twenty-four hours.

28. During what years was Fort Ross a Russian enterprise?

From Quiz Fort Ross, California

Answer: 1812-1842

The changing political situation in California made it uncomfortable for the Russians to stay any later than 1842.

29. What is the proper spelling of the district known for flower power during the "Summer of Love" in 1967?

From Quiz I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Answer: Haight-Ashbury

Haight-Ashbury has become indelibly marked as the central locale for the hippie movement during the 1960s. There had been talk of a new freeway running through the area so the property values had dropped, making the district an attractive location for the unemployed or funds-lacking hippies, due to the inexpensive rents and availability of space. To this day, it is still a haven of bohemian lifestyles.

30. Who declared himself as the head of military authority in San Francisco?

From Quiz 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Answer: Gen. Frederick Funston

Gen. Funston believed that only the military could control the citizens after the earthquake. His actions included imposing martial law on the town. It was more than two days after the earthquake that President Roosevelt authorized a military presence in the ravaged city.

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