Silent Western actor and Newhall resident William S. Hart kneels at the marker erected at by Hart and the other "Newhall Cowboys"
at the Ruiz Cemetery in San Francisquito Canyon, probably on Sunday, March 25, 1928. The design of the marker (seen here
in 2002 closeup) was spearheaded by a deputy sheriff Bogardus and other community leaders.
Kneeling: Bob Addington (left), William S. Hart. Standing (probably left to right:)
Cy Cooke, Tex Palmer, Ed Warren, Andy Jauregui, Frank Rouff and Walter Whitmore.
The marker reads: "In memory of those who lost their lives in the Santa Clara flood, Mar. 13, 1928 — Erected by the Newhall Cowboys."
Further reading: Requiem to a Little Soldier: A lifeless lamb in a makeshift morgue brings Newhall’s leading citizen to his knees
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.