Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Highway Pile Driver in Use
Southeast of Castaic Junction | St. Francis Dam Disaster

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Destroyed highway and railroad bridges | Click to enlarge.

According to St. Francis Dam historian J. David Rogers, this is a steam-powered pile driver used southeast of Castaic Junction to install timber piles for a new bridge to replace one that washed away when the floodwaters hit during the early morning hours of March 13, 1928.

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.

RO2803a: 19200 dpi jpeg. Online image only.
LADWP Archive
St. Francis Dam Disaster

Flood Path Aerials x3

High Water Mark

SPRR Tracks Moved

SPRR Track Erosion

Highway Pile Driver

Highway Pile Driver

Highway Pile Driver

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