Eighty-seven years ago Thursday, the St. Francis Dam collapsed and hundreds were killed when the 18-story wall of water roared through the Santa Clarita Valley.
The construction of the dam began in August of 1924 and began to fill with water on March 1, 1928, according to SCVHistory.
A little more than two-and-a-half minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, the dam failed.
The wall of water, 55 feet taller than the original Colossus’ tallest hill at Six Flags Magic Mountain, crashed through San Francisquito Canyon and reached the Pacific Ocean just south of Ventura. It took the immense wave five-and-a-half hours to reach the ocean.
An estimated 431 people were killed.
The failure of the St. Francis Dam is known as the second-worst disaster in California history, coming behind the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires, and America’s worst civil engineering failure of the 20th century, according to SCVHistory.
St. Francis Dam Tour
The St. Francis Dam Tour is planned to be held March 14 and begin at 11 a.m. with a free lecture in the freight room of the Saugus Train Station inside the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society’s Heritage Junction Historic Park, according to the event’s Facebook page.
At 12 p.m., attendees who have purchased tickets will take a bus to the dam site off of San Francisquito Canyon Road and will be led on a hike to the dam ruins. The hike measures about a mile and is steep in some places.
Frank Rock, known as “The Dam Man,” is leading the lecture and hike. He has been featured on the History Channel, Discovery Channel and SCVTV.
Resident of all ages are invited to attend. Tickets are $35 and all of the funds will go to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.