Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Producer pushes St. Francis Dam stamp

By Amber Joy Blair
Signal Staff Writer

Monday, August 27, 2001

raddon Mendelson, who is producing a documentary on the St. Francis Dam disaster, is starting a campaign urging the United States Postal Service to issue a stamp commemorating the disaster's 75th anniversary on March 12, 2003.
    "As I have gotten more passionate about the history of the dam, and have begun researching its story, one thing that has bothered me is there isn't really a memorial to the disaster's victims, survivors and heroes other than a small plaque located behind the fence at Power Station number two," Mendelson said.
    Almost all subjects chosen to appear on U.S. stamps and postal stationery are suggested by the public, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Mendelson is asking community members, teachers, students, and leaders to write letters to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee in support of this monumental piece of Santa Clarita Valley history.
    On March 12, 1928, at 11:57 p.m., the St. Francis Dam, built by William Mulholland, broke, unleashing 12.5 billion gallons of water racing down San Francisquito Canyon. The water rushed westward for 54 miles, destroying towns in its path and killing more than 450 people until it finally ran into the Pacific Ocean.
    "This was such an important part of history," said Mendelson. President of Noisivison Productions, as well as writer, producer, director of television shows and music videos, Mendelson is in pre-production for his documentary, "Before Midnight: Stories of the St. Francis Dam."
    His goal is to increase awareness of the disaster and the developments that evolved from it, such as the state Water Resources Department‹ the first agency in the world to be created for dam safety.
    To kick off the stamp campaign, Mendelson has written to the Stamp Advisory Board and has contacted many government officials, including U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Gov. Gray Davis. He is also eliciting support from the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and local schools.
    "Since I know students study the history of William Mulholland and the dam as part of their third-grade curriculum, I thought it would be a fun project for teachers to encourage their students to send letters in support of this proposal," Mendelson said.
    Each year, approximately 25 new subjects for commemorative stamps are recommended by the CSAC, which is tasked with evaluating the merits of all stamp proposals. According to the USPS, every stamp suggestion is considered. The committee's primary goal is to select interesting and educational subjects for recommendation to the postmaster general.

    To aid in the effort to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the dam disaster, write to: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Room 5670, Washington, D.C. 20260-2437.

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