U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce, introduced her first piece of legislation into the 116th Congress on Wednesday – H.R. 1015 – a bill to commemorate the St. Francis Dam Disaster by establishing a National Memorial at the dam site in San Francisquito Canyon.
“The St. Francis Dam Disaster took place 10 miles north of what is now my hometown of Santa Clarita. In honor of the hundreds of lives lost, this Memorial will uplift the stories of the tragedy and serve as a constant reminder that our infrastructure is deeply important to our community safety and security,” Hill said. “I am thankful to my neighbor, Congresswoman Julia Brownley, for co-sponsoring this legislation and for our Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein for their support in the Senate.”
U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Thousand Oaks, is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.
“The collapse of the Saint Francis Dam was one of the most catastrophic events in our state’s history, yet this tragedy has remained in obscurity for far too long. From the victims who sadly lost their lives, to the heroic telephone operators and California Highway Patrol officers who tried to warn residents of the rushing waters, this memorial will commemorate the stories of local residents for many generations to come and serve as a reminder of the importance of our infrastructure,” Congresswoman Brownley said. “I am pleased that Congresswoman Katie Hill is introducing this important bill, and I look forward to working with her, as well as Senators Feinstein and Harris, to get this bill to the President’s desk.”
Senators Kamala Harris (CA) and Dianne Feinstein have introduced the companion legislation in the Senate.
“I’m proud to partner with Representative Hill on this bill to establish a national memorial honoring the Californians whose lives were lost in the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster,” said Senator Harris. “This monument will serve as a reminder for generations to come of the profound consequences of a failure of infrastructure,” said Senator Harris.
Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, president of the Community Hiking Club, one of the nonprofit proponents of the legislation, couldn’t have been more thrilled.
“I’m so delighted that Katie Hill has taken the initiative to introduce the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Act,” Erskine-Hellrigel said Thursday. “I have great expectations for the bill this year, and I’m looking forward to the day when we can tell all of the survivors families that it’s done.”
The original St. Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act, HR 2156, was introduced in the House of Representatives in April 2017 by then-Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).
The St. Francis Dam Disaster was the second-deadliest in California and was the nation’s worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century. An estimated 411 people perished in the Santa Clara River floodplain, and the failure caused millions of dollars in damage to the communities of Santa Clarita Valley, Rancho Camulos, Piru, Fillmore, Bardsdale, Santa Paula, Saticoy and Montalvo.
William Mulholland, head of the Los Angeles Bureau of Water Works and Water Supply, now known as the LADWP, oversaw construction of the dam. He resigned as a result of its failure.