The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society will present a tour of the St. Francis Dam site on Saturday, March 16, just 4 days after the 85th anniversary of the second-worst natural disaster to hit California.
The failure of the St. Francis Dam on March 12, 1928, killed more than 450 people, leveled farms and homesteads, destroyed property and livestock and changed the way dam safety was addressed forevermore.
The tour will begin with a short presentation about the disaster at 11 a.m. in the freight room of the Saugus Train Station in Heritage Junction. At noon, ticketed passengers will board a motorcoach for a trip up to the dam site in San Francisquito Canyon and a hike to the dam ruins.
St. Francis Dam expert Frank Rock, who has been featured on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and SCVTV, will conduct the lecture and tour.
Tickets are $35 per person for all ages and include snacks and bus transportation. Funds raised will benefit programs of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.
Participants should wear long pants and comfortable hiking shoes. Water will be provided. Tickets may be reserved by calling (661) 254-1275 with credit card and contact information or by mailing your ticket order to P.O. Box 221925, Newhall, CA 91322-1925. Mail orders must be received no later than March 12.
Because this tour is a very popular fund-raiser, it is impossible to guarantee that seats will be available for purchase on the day of the tour. Order your tickets now.
Construction on the 600-foot-long, 185-foot-high St. Francis Dam started in August 1924 – seven miles north of today’s Copper Hill Drive in Saugus. With a 12.5 billion-gallon capacity, the reservoir began to fill with water on March 1, 1926. It was completed two months later.
At 11:57:30 p.m. on March 12, 1928, the dam failed, sending a 180-foot-high wall of water crashing down San Francisquito Canyon. An estimated 470 people lay dead by the time the floodwaters reached the Pacific Ocean south of Ventura 5½ hours later.
It was the second-worst disaster in California history, after the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, in terms of lives lost — and America’s worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century.
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