Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

St. Francis Dam Disaster
Santa Paula


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Flood damage in Santa Paula, March 1928.

Seven miles up San Francisquito Canyon Road from today's Copper Hill Drive, construction on the 700-foot-long, 205-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 431 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.


al3043a: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph, collection of Alan Pollack
SANTA PAULA FLOOD DAMAGE
(St. Francis Dam Disaster 1928)

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Broken Highway

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Broken Water Main

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Santa Paula Structures x11

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April 8, 1928 x2

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Wrecked Farmhouse

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