After a three-year hiatus, the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society will commemorate the 95th anniversary of the second-worst disaster in California history by bringing back its renowned St. Francis Dam lecture and bus tour/hike at the dam site in San Francisquito Canyon on Saturday, March 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $50 and may be purchased on Eventbrite [here].
The tour will begin at 11 a.m. with a short presentation on the history of the dam presented by Dr. Alan Pollack and Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel from the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation. The presentation will take place in Room 258 of the University Center at College of the Canyons, located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Santa Clarita. Participants should arrive at the college at 10:30 a.m. to park and check in.
After the presentation, two busses with speakers familiar with the disaster’s history will take participants into San Francisquito Canyon, narrating at important points of interest to the disaster, including Frank Rock, Ann Stansell, Pollack and Erskine-Hellrigel.
As the event includes a short hike through natural areas, long pants, long sleeves and tennis shoes/hiking boots are recommended, as are a hat and sunscreen. Water and a snack will be provided. The hike will include the tombstone ruins, the pyramid formation, and other remaining blocks of the dam. Masks are recommended, but not required, for all indoor and transportation portions of the tour.
Funds raised will benefit programs of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society at the Santa Clarita History Center. This tour sells out every year, so advance purchase at the link provided is strongly recommended.
About the experts:
Alan Pollack is President of the SCV Historical Society and President of the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation. He has been featured on Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” and on SCVTV’s “Points of Interest”.
Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is a Director of the SCV Historical Society and vice president/executive director of the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation. She has been featured on SCVTV’s “Points of Interest”. Both she and Pollack were leaders in creating and promoting the legislation leading to the National Memorial and National Monument in 2019.
Frank Rock is well known as “The Dam Man.” He conducted the Society’s St. Francis Dam tour from 1990 to 2015, as well as for private geology and archeology groups. He has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery, and the BBC, as well as various cable and web programs talking about the dam disaster and speaking at civic groups and schools in Southern California.
Ann Stansell is a Director of the SCV Historical Society and of the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation. She is also an Associate State Archaeologist at California State Parks, and Co-director of CSUN’s Forgotten Casualties Project. Ann authored her master’s thesis for an archeology degree at Cal State Northridge in 2014, in which she came up with the most accurate list to date of the casualties of the St. Francis Dam Disaster.
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