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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Santa Paula in Ventura County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial

 
 
Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tceng, April 15, 2012
1. Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial Marker
Inscription. Minutes before midnight on the chilly evening of March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam failed. The dam's 200-foot high concrete wall crumpled and collapsed, sending billions of gallons of raging flood waters down San Francisquito Canyon, about five miles northeast of what is now the city of Santa Clarita. The avalanche of water swept 54 miles down the Santa Clara River to the sea. No one knows the exact death toll but more than 450 people perished in the disaster.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. on March 13 an urgent message of imminent disaster reached the night telephone operator in Santa Paula and was relayed to police officers, city officials and then homes in the lower portions of town. Among the many heroes of the flood that evening were two motorcycle officers who rode through the night to warn the sleeping citizens in the low lying areas of Santa Paula that a torrent of water was about to inundate their homes. Their heroic efforts saved countless lives. Their wild ride that night was stopped at 3:05 a.m. when the wall of water swept through Santa Paula on its way to the ocean.

Many stories of heroism and courage emerged in the aftermath of the flood. This monument represents one such act of heroism.
 
Erected 2003 by City of Santa Paula.
 
Location.
Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial image. Click for full size.
By Tceng, April 15, 2012
2. Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial
The marker is visible laying horizontally between the two motorcycles.
34° 21.355′ N, 119° 3.639′ W. Marker is in Santa Paula, California, in Ventura County. Marker is at the intersection of East 10th Street (County Route 150) and East Santa Barbara Street, on the right when traveling north on East 10th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Santa Paula CA 93060, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Birthplace of Union Oil Company of California (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Familia Diaz Cafe (approx. 0.4 miles away); Portolá Expedition (approx. 0.6 miles away); 317 Central Avenue (approx. 8.9 miles away); Fillmore's First Bank & Masonic Hall (approx. 8.9 miles away); Fillmore State Bank (approx. 8.9 miles away); 320 Central Avenue (approx. 8.9 miles away); 328 Central Avenue (approx. 8.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Santa Paula.
 
Also see . . .
1. Santa Clarita Valley History. An extensive collection of newspaper articles, photos and information relating to the St. Francis Dam Disaster. (Submitted on April 18, 2012.) 

2. A Look Back at the St. Francis Dam Disaster. Other than their incorrect pronunciations of Castaic (properly Ca-steak, not Ca-stay-ick) and Piru (properly Pee-roo, not Pie-roo but this battle was lost many years ago), this
Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial image. Click for full size.
By Tceng, April 15, 2012
3. Saint Francis Dam Disaster Memorial
Motocycle Officer sculpture detail.
video does a very good job of explaining the mechanism of the dam failure and hints at William Mulholland's (some would say criminal) culpability. (Submitted on June 11, 2013, by James King of San Miguel, California.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Man Made Disaster by Charles F. Outland
This book is widely regarded as the most authoritative historical account of the St. Francis Dam disaster from the mechanism of the failure through the aftermath of the flood.
    — Submitted June 11, 2013, by James King of San Miguel, California.

 
Categories. Disasters
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 16, 2012, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona. This page has been viewed 1,100 times since then and 100 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 16, 2012, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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