William Mulholland's great St. Francis Dam broke at three minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, sending
a 180-foot-high wall of water crashing down San Francisquito Canyon and claiming approximately 470 lives by the
time the floodwaters reached the Pacific Ocean at Ventura.
In this photograph, mourners inter the bodies of dam victims in the Ruiz family cemetery, located approximately
one-quarter mile south of the dam site. A family of farmers in the canyon since the mid-1800s,
six Ruiz family members -- Rosaria and Enrique Ruiz and four of their children, ages eight to
thirty -- perished in the disaster. Carrying the broken body of a young boy whom he had bedecked in a little
cowboy outfit, the grieving silver screen star and Newhall resident William S. Hart led a procession
from Newhall to the cemetery and helped bury victims.
It was the second-worst disaster in California history, second only to the great San Francisco earthquake
and fire of 1906.