Cowart Family of Burbank Visits

St. Francis Dam Site, San Francisquito Canyon

Click image to enlarge | Download archival scan

Click to enlarge | Download archival scan

Two photos show the Cowart family of Burbank visiting the site of the former St. Francis Dam in 1928, soon after the failure.

Above: (From left) Nolda, age 12; Betty, 10; Mrs. Gertrude Cowart; Jack, 8; and Merle, 14. They're standing on the so-called "wing dyke," the exten­sion that was built atop the hill to the west when the decision was made to raise the height of the dam (without widening the base). Visible in the background is the downstream side of the "tombstone" — the dam's remaining center section.

Inset: (From left) Nolda, Jack (foreground), Merle and Betty are stand­ing on the upstream (reservoir) side of the tombstone.

The photo contributor is Valen­cia resident Cheryl (Forbes) Elm, daugh­ter of Betty Cowart Forbes, the 10-year-old girl in the photos.

The dam site was a popular tourist attraction for more than year after the disaster of March 12-13, 1928. For­tunately for posterity, many of the tourists brought a camera. The fun ended in May 1929 when the City of Los Angeles dynamited the tombstone. The Cowarts would not have been able to stand where they're standing in either photo because the wing dyke was dynamited, too.

HB2804 & HB2804b: 9600 dpi jpegs from 4x6 copy prints (color photocopy process) donated by Cheryl Elm to the SCV Historical Society. Photo file.
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