Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> ST. FRANCIS DAM DISASTER
Wreckage (Home)
St. Francis Dam Disaster | Fillmore Area

The raging, muddy torrent did not discrimiate among homes, cars, giant oak trees or anything else that stood in the way.

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.

This photo is one of several that were in the possession of the late Betty Houghton Pember, daughter of Opal and Lloyd Houghton, whose Hap-A-Lan dance hall was used as a makeshift morgue after the dam break. The dance hall, located at the northwest corner of what is now Railroad Avenue and Market Street in downtown Newhall, was razed soon thereafter, at least in part because of the bad memories. Houghton sold the property to the Masons, who built a courthouse (now known as "Ye Olde Courthouse"), with a meeting hall above.


HS2803: 19200 dpi jpeg from 300 dpi jpeg from original print.
BETTY PEMBER COLLECTION
St. Francis Dam Disaster

Also: Betty Pember
thumbnail

thumbnail
Kemp

thumbnail

thumbnail

thumbnail

thumbnail

thumbnail

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ]
SCVHistory.com is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV • Additional copyrights apply
comments powered by Disqus
Click for Forecast from weatherUSA   • Edwards Valencia
  • Edwards Cyn Ctry
  • Calendar
  • Freeway Conditions
  • Lowest Gas Prices
  • Canyon Theatre
  • REP Theatre