U.S. Reps. Steve Knight (CA-25) and Julia Brownley (CA-26) renewed a bipartisan legislative effort on Wednesday to create a national memorial and monument to victims of the St. Francis Dam disaster.
H.R. 2156, the Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act, would create a national memorial at the site of the 1928 St. Francis Dam Disaster in the San Francisquito Canyon, which claimed the lives of 431 people. The memorial would be funded by private donations and would establish a 440 acre national monument encompassing the designated national memorial area that was devastated in the resulting flood.
"The St. Francis Dam collapse was one of the biggest disasters in California's history, second only to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake — yet its story is relatively unknown," said Rep. Brownley. "From the over 430 victims claimed by the disaster to the heroes, such as Officer Edward Thornton who rode his motorcycle in the dead of night to warn residents of the impending flood, it is important we commemorate this rich and significant part of our regional and national history and honor those who lost their lives."
The legislation is similar to a measure authored by Knight and Brownley last Congress, which passed the House of Representatives with unanimous support. Prior to passage Knight testified in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands about the need to memorialize the victims of the disaster. He was joined in the hearing by Dr. Alan Pollack, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, who detailed the dam's history, beginning with its flawed design and construction and ending with its abrupt and devastating collapse.
"This memorial site is important for the people of the Santa Clarita Valley and I am proud to be part of the effort to educate the public and honor the individuals who perished in the St. Francis Dam Disaster," said Rep. Knight. "The victims of the St. Francis Dam Disaster deserve to be memorialized, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure it happens."