St. Francis Dam Disaster Proclamation
County of Los Angeles | March 2018

[March 13, 2018] - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the St. Francis Dam Disaster. President Alan Pollack and Director Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society joined Barger in discussing the disaster.

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Commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the St. Francis Dam Disaster
March 13, 2018

The Saint Francis Dam was located in San Francisquito Canyon, 47 miles northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and 10 miles north of the Santa Clarita Valley. It was built to provide a storage reservoir for the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. Upon its completion in May 1926, the Dam reached 205 feet tall, spanned more than 700 feet long, and could store at least two years' worth of water for the City of Los Angeles.

At 11:58 p.m. on March 12, 1928, only two years after its completion, the St. Francis Dam failed. It sent over 12 billion gallons of water through the communities in the Santa Clara River Valley and down almost 55 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The catastrophe destroyed 1,200 homes, washed out ten bridges, and knocked down power lines. It is estimated that more than 450 people were killed in the disaster.

The tragic failure of the St. Francis Dam, known as the St. Francis Dam Disaster, is recognized to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and the second largest disaster in California's history — only after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Now, the only visible remains of the dam are weathered, broken chunks of gray concrete and the rusted handrails that lined the top of the dam.

On the St. Francis Dam Disaster's 90th Anniversary, it is critical to recognize the importance of sound civil engineering and independent review and to remember the hundreds of lives lost on March 12 and 13, 1928, with the hope that it will inspire discussion and understanding for future generations.

I, THEREFORE MOVE that the Board of Supervisors commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the St. Francis Dam Disaster on March 13, 2018.

St. Francis Dam Disaster • 2018


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