Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

(Kemp) Edison Camp Survivor C.E. Kanawyer

St. Francis Dam Disaster

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C.E. Kanawyer of Reedley, Calif., was one of about 65 Edison Company employees who lived to tell about their experience in the St. Francis Dam Disaster when they were encamped at Kemp, a railroad siding near the L.A.-Ventura county line. Eighty-four of Kanawyer's cohorts weren't so lucky. They perished when the raging floodwaters struck a granite outcropping known as Blue Cut and doubled back over them, creating a whirlpool.

8x10 glossy undated photograph (1928) distributed by Underwood & Underwood of New York City. Cutline reads:

"Cat skinner's" luck — one of the 40 [sic] survivors of Edison Company's 130 [sic] heroes that were caught in their tents when the wall of water from the broken St. Francis dam hit a curve in the river and whirled back on the Edison camp. "I grabbed a table and went out through the flap in the tent," said C.E. Kanawyer on the job with his beloved "Caterpillar" Thirty to snake motor trucks across a break in the highway. (8474)

Note: An LADWP list of wrecked automobiles at Kemp gives Kanawyer's name as "Kanayer." He lost a Chrysler roadster.


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LW3791: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2021 by Leon Worden.
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