Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> ST. FRANCIS DAM DISASTER

Floor Debate, U.S. House of Representatives.
H.R. 2156: Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act.


SAINT FRANCIS DAM DISASTER NATIONAL MEMORIAL ACT

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 2156) to provide for the establishment of a national memorial and national monument to commemorate those killed by the collapse of the Saint Francis Dam on March 12, 1928, and for other purposes.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows:

[THE BILL TEXT]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. LaHOOD) and the gentleman from California (Mr. PANETTA) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois.

GENERAL LEAVE

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill currently under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Illinois?

There was no objection.

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The Saint Francis Dam disaster is considered one of the worst civil engineering catastrophes in the 20th century.

H.R. 2156, introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. KNIGHT), my good friend, recognizes the incident's devastation and subsequent impacts on the residents of northern Los Angeles County by establishing a national memorial and monument to preserve the area for future generations.

The bull authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the memorial using donations from the community, working in consultation with the Santa Clarita City Council and the public. No taxpayer funds are authorized for the construction of the memorial.

The bill also authorizes the creation of a 440-acre monument that will encompass the Saint Francis Dam memorial. The boundaries of the monument were designated in consultation with the local community, and the bill includes provisions to ensure motorized access within the monument and continued grazing on any land where it is already permitted.

The memorial and the monument created by this legislation are a fitting tribute to the 400 people who lost their lives tragically and thousands more whose lives were forever changed by the Saint Francis Dam disaster.

Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of the bill introduced by Mr. KNIGHT, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. PANETTA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

In one of the worst civil engineering failures of the 20th century, the breach of the Saint Francis Dam, on March 12, 1928, tragically took the lives of over 400 Americans. To honor the memory of those who lost their lives on that fateful day, H.R. 2156 establishes a national memorial at the disaster site in California's Santa Clarita Valley. The memorial will provide a permanent place of remembrance and a place for healing.

In addition to the memorial, H.R. 2156 establishes the Saint Francis Dam National Monument on 440 acres of public land managed by the Forest Service. The national monument designation authorizes the U.S. Forest Service, in consultation with a range of stakeholders, to develop educational programs and improve the health of regional watersheds.

I want to thank Congresswoman JULIA BROWNLEY, as well as Congressman KNIGHT, along with the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, for bringing the legacy of the Saint Francis Dam disaster to the attention of Congress. As we have all heard: "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

This bill received strong support last Congress and was voted out of the House. This is a good bill, and I urge my colleagues to support its adoption.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. KNIGHT), the author of the legislation.

Mr. KNIGHT. Mr. Speaker, this is something that is near and dear to my heart. This is something that has affected our community. It happened less than 20 miles from my house, almost 100 years ago, and today I rise in remembrance of the Saint Francis Dam and the bill I sponsored, which would establish a national memorial to honor those in this terrible tragedy.

The Saint Francis Dam failed on March 12, 1928, in the San Francisquito Canyon. Nearly 13 billion gallons of water crashed down upon the surrounding areas and, ultimately, traveled 54 miles down to the Pacific Ocean. The brute force of this floodwater claimed 437 lives, leaving in its wake unspeakable heartbreak and catastrophically impacted communities.

The Saint Francis Dam disaster was America's worst civil engineering failure of the 20th century. While this failure ultimately informed future dam construction and the development of new safety standards, these lessons were learned at a steep price. Many of the dams that were built after this were built because of the Saint Francis Dam issues, and they were built at a much different level.

This bill takes a small but significant step in memorializing the men, women and children who lost their lives in this tragedy. Those individuals represent a solumn part of current-day Santa Clarita Valley's heritage, and I am humbled by this honor to commemorate their memory.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for his support of this bill, and I urge my colleagues to vote "yes."

Mr. PANETTA. Mr. Speaker, I have no further speakers, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of this legislation, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. LaHOOD) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 2156.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.



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