Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Structure Damage in Santa Paula
St. Francis Dam Disaster

In the first image of this grouping, an unidentified woman sorts through her belongings in front of her wrecked Santa Paula home.

Grouping shows structure damage in Santa Paula caused by the flood of March 13, 1928, resulting from the collapse of the St. Francis Dam in farway San Francisquito Canyon at 3 minutes to midnight on March 12.

As seen in several photos, one of the structures clearly burned.

Source of photos unknown. The name "Ayala" is assocated with this grouping, which was scanned in 2002 and added to this archive in 2015. According to Nichols (2002:23), there was a Deputy P.J. Ayala who was among the first to give the warning of the impending flood, but we have no idea whether it's related. P.J. is the only Ayala we've encountered in the record of the disaster.

Construction on the 600-foot-long, 185-foot-high St. Francis Dam started in August 1924. 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 411 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.

LW2821: 9600 dpi jpegs from 400 dpi jpegs scanned in 2002, added 2015.
(St. Francis Dam Disaster 1928)

thumbnail FILM: Fillmore

thumbnail Broken Highway

thumbnail Broken Water Main

thumbnail Santa Paula Structures x11

thumbnail April 8, 1928 x2

thumbnail Wrecked Farmhouse

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