Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> ST. FRANCIS DAM DISASTER
Ruins of St. Francis Dam
San Francisquito Canyon


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Ruins of the St. Francis Dam. View to the north into the former reservoir. Wing dyke at left, tombstone at right. Undated (1928 or 1929) real photo postcard by Kug-Art Photo Service, 445 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale, Calif. (Address stamped on back.)

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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 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.


LW2944: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.
EMPTY ST. FRANCIS RESERVOIR

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FILM: Tombstone & Reservoir, 3-13-1928

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FILM: Setting Dynamite Charges
4-17-1929

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George Watson Photo

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