It was the second largest disaster to ever occur in the recorded history of California. Its aftermath was steeped in controversy, some of which remains to this day.
The St. Francis Dam ruptured unexpectedly (some would say otherwise) just before midnight on March 12, 1928, sending a huge wall of water down San Francisquito Canyon and the Santa Clara River Valley to the Pacific Ocean. In its wake, the flood left at least 431 deaths, along with massive destruction of homes, farms, railroads, livestock and agriculture.
The disaster forever left its mark on dam safety in the United States and worldwide, and endangered the proposed construction of the Boulder Dam on the Colorado River.
The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and Anthropology Department of California State University, Northridge are pleased to announce their first-ever joint symposium on the St. Francis Dam Disaster.
The two-part symposium will consist of an open roundtable discussion titled, “Current research issues on the St. Francis Dam Disaster,” to be conducted by a distinguished panel of St. Francis Dam experts at Heritage Junction in William S. Hart Park in Newhall on Saturday, March 28, from 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to be followed by a series of talks at the Old Town Newhall Library starting at 2 p.m.
The keynote speaker at the library will be Dr. J. David Rogers of the Missouri University of Science and Technology, who will be speaking on “St. Francis Dam: What Mulholland did that led to the tragic disaster.” (He will also participate in the earlier roundtable discussion.)
There will also be short talks on the proposed St. Francis Dam National Memorial legislation and CSUN’s Forgotten Casualties Project.
The Saugus Train station is located at 24101 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, inside William S. Hart Park. The Old Town Newhall Library is located at 24500 Main St. in Newhall, California.
About Dr. J. David Rogers
Dr. J David Rogers, a world-renowned expert on the St. Francis Dam disaster, is the Karl F. Hasselmann Chair in the Geological Engineering, Geological Engineering Program, Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Missouri’s premier technological research university, in Rollo, Mo.
Among many other research accomplishments, his 1992 article on the Reassessment of the St. Francis Dam Failure published by the Association of Engineering Geologists was recognized for the Rock Mechanics Award of the U.S. National Committee on Rock Mechanics and the E.B. Burwell Jr. Award of the Geological Society of America. After publishing “A Man, a Dam and a Disaster ” in 1995, his contributions to the emerging field of geoforensics were recognized by the 1996 R.H. Jahns Distinguished Lectureship in Engineering Geology Award jointly sponsored by the Association of Engineering Geologists and Geological Society of America. In 1998 he was named to the Society of Sigma Xi College of Distinguished Lecturers for the term 1999-2001. In 1994 his design of a reinforced rock cliff face on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco was recognized with the Distinguished Project Award of the Northern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association.
Dr. Rogers has 25 years of experience in evaluating the stability of natural slopes, embankments, stream channels, highways and hydraulic structures. From 1979 to 2001, he managed more than 500 projects in the western United States, Hawaii, Taiwan, the Philippines and the Middle East. He has served as principal investigator for scientific research funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Defense and the California and Missouri Departments of Transportation.
Dr. Rogers has served on a number of panels, which currently include the Technical Advisory Committee on Grading Standards for the California Geological Survey, the Building Codes and Dam Safety Committees of the Association of Engineering Geologists and serves as a peer reviewer for GeoHazards Research for the National Science Foundation. Dr. Rogers is a frequent lecturer to professional and academic organizations and has taught numerous short courses for universities, including the National Short Courses on Slope Stability and Landslides and Practical Slope Restoration Methods sponsored annually by the University of Wisconsin (1983-92).
Dr. Rogers’ publications on the St. Francis Dam disaster include:
* The 1928 St. Francis Dam Failure and Its Impact on American Civil Engineering;
* Impacts of the 1928 St. Francis Dam Failure on Geology, Civil Engineering, and America;
* The St. Francis Dam Failure: Worst American civil engineering disaster of the 20th Century (A Reassessment of the St Francis Dam Failure)’
* Mapping the St. Francis Dam Outburst Flood with Geographic Information Systems;
* Lessons Learned from the St. Francis Dam Failure.
The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and the CSUN Anthropology Department are pleased to present this joint symposium on the St. Francis Dam disaster. The public is welcome to attend. Admission will be free. For more information on this and other upcoming programs from the SCV Historical Society, call Dr. Alan Pollack at 661-254-1275 or visit www.scvhs.org.