California Dam Collapse In 1928 Is One Of The Worst Engineering Disaster Ever In US

Samuel Reason - May 21st, 2020

St Francis Dam was a huge curved concrete gravity dam that was built in California to regulate and store the reservoirs of water for Los Angeles, California. The reservoir was the main supply of water for the city and as a result, the dam was an integral part of the city’s infrastructure. The dam was located in the San Francisquito Canyon which is found in Sierra Pelona and is about 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. In fact, it is only 10 miles away from the present-day Santa Clarita.

It was built between 1924 and 1926 with the project being overseen by the chief engineer William Mulholland and commissioned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Just two years after the structure was completed at around midnight on March 12, 1928, there was a massive failure causing a fatal flood. It is estimated that over 400 people lost their lives during this disaster when the dam collapsed. It is still considered by many one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century.

The disaster remains to this day the second greatest loss of life in California, this is after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and following fire. As you might have guessed, the collapse also marked the end of Mulholland’s career.

When the dam collapsed, the wave was 140 feet high, and moving over 18 miles per hour, it destroyed a Powerhouse whilst taking all the lives of the workmen and their families who lived on site. An hour later a mass of water over 55 feet high was rolling down the Santa Clara River Valley and flooding every town in its path, the sleepy town of Castaic Junction was simply swept away completely by the flooding. One of the reasons there was major casualties was because there were several construction companies on the flats near the Ventura-Los Angeles county line and their workers were in temporary housing during the construction period. No one was able to warn them and these camps were simply swept away by the power of the water, drowning most of the workers.

Bodies were found as far south as the Mexican border, but many were never recovered or even found. This was because much of the water made it out to the Pacific Ocean, sweeping debris and victims into the ocean.

Next Article
  • Spare Hair Is Being Turned Into Mats And Can Clean Up Our Oceans

    Some researchers have concluded that the solution for cleaning our oceans is actually growing right on our heads. When you get a haircut or your pet gets a trim and all those strands are covering the ground well this can be reformed into saving the planet. So don’t just through your waste hair in the...

    Read More
  • The Incredible Invention Of The Stethoscope

    In 1816 the invention of the stethoscope in the Hospital Necker in Paris was hailed as a new age of medical invention that would bring forth improved diagnosis for all patients. Created by Rene Laennec he went through a long and painstaking process of matching all the sounds he would hear during his assessment of...

    Read More
  • Ronald McNair The Astronaut Who Dreamed Big

    Ronald McNair was one of the astronauts that were tragically killed when the Challenger spaceship exploded on Tuesday, January 28, 1986. It was a tragedy of the NASA space program that will never be forgotten. McNair though battled his way through life, always dreaming big and was always exceeding the boundaries he found in front...

    Read More
  • The Woman Crowned King Of Poland

    In 1384, Jadwiga of Poland who was just 10 years old at the time was crowned King of Poland. One thing though was the daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Elizabeth of Bosnia. So why was she not crowned Queen of Poland? Well, that is a whole story of political disputes and royal family...

    Read More
  • The History Of The Burned House Horizon

    During the archaeology of Neolithic Europe, researchers discovered an area of Europe where it appears there was a widespread phenomenon of intentionally burning settlements. This section of land is known as the burned house horizon. No one knows why this a tradition but it was widespread and was a long-lasting tradition around now Southeastern and...

    Read More
  • Myrtle The Story Of The Four-Legged Girl

    Mrs. Josephine Myrtle Bicknell died just one week away from her sixtieth birthday and she was buried not far from her home in Cleburne, Texas in 1928. It was a strange burial because her husband along with other close family members watched the grave filled with a thick layer of cement. They then waited for...

    Read More