Dozens embarked on a trip back in time Saturday to 88 years ago when one of the world’s worst civil engineering disasters killed hundreds of people.
Alan Pollack, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, along with historian Phillip Scorza and Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy, educated locals about the history of the St. Francis Dam Disaster and told the stories of the victims during the annual tour starting at 11 a.m. at Heritage Junction.
The tour took locals on a bus tour of San Francisquito Canyon Road, stopping first at Powerhouse No. 2 with Pollack narrating along the way. The second stop on the tour included seeing where the dam itself once stood. Participants had the opportunity to walk the rubble and get a first hand look at what is left of the dam.
History of the Disaster:
On March 12, 1928, William Mulholland’s St. Francis Dam crumbled a little more than two-and-a-half minutes before midnight. An immense wall of water crashed down San Francisquito Canyon, turning west at the Santa Clara River.
The wall of water, 55 feet taller than the original Colossus’ tallest hill at Six Flags Magic Mountain didn’t stop until it reached the Pacific Ocean five and a half hours later. Towns across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties — Saugus, Castaic, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Saticoy, Montalvo — were decimated.
Hundreds were killed.
The failure of the St. Francis Dam is known as the second-worst disaster in California history, coming behind the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires, and America’s worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century.
To see an extended timeline of events on the disaster click [here].