Hide image list »
St. Francis dam disaster...
Item # 571140
March 15, 1928
THE OMAHA BEE-NEWS, Nebraska, March 15, 1928
* St. Francis dam disaster
* Los Angeles, California area
This 18 page has one column headlines on the front page that include: "Dam Break Charged to Los Angeles" "264 Known Dead in California's Newest Disaster; Searchers Continue to Seek Bodies" and more. (see)
Other news of the day. Light browning with minor margin wear, otherwise in good condition.
wikipedia notes: Three minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam catastrophically failed, less than 12 hours after Mulholland had inspected and declared it safe. There were no eyewitnesses to the dam's collapse, but a motorcyclist named Ace Hopewell rode past the dam and reported feeling a rumbling and the sound of "crashing, falling blocks," after riding about a half-mile (800 m) upstream. He assumed this was either an earthquake or another one of the landslides common to the area, not realizing he was the last person to have seen the St. Francis Dam intact, and survive.
The dam after the breach. Note the standing center section (the "Tombstone"), and the landslide and washed-out road at the extreme right of the photograph.
Harnischfeger and his family were, most likely, the first casualties caught in the floodwave, which was at least 125 ft (38 m) high when it hit their cottage in the San Francisquito Canyon, approximately 1/4 mile (400 m) downstream from the dam. Forty-five minutes before the collapse, the motorcyclist also reported seeing a light in the canyon below the dam—the dam itself did not have lights—suggesting Harnischfeger may have been inspecting the dam immediately prior to its failure. The body of Harnischfeger's wife was found fully clothed and wedged between two blocks of concrete near the broken base of the dam; their six-year-old son's body was found farther downstream, but Tony Harnischfeger's body was never found.
Twelve billion U.S. gallons (45 billion liters) of water surged down San Francisquito Canyon in a floodwave, demolishing the heavy concrete walls of Power Station Number Two (a hydroelectric power plant), and destroying everything else in its path. The flood travelled south down San Francisquito Canyon, flooding part of present-day Valencia and Newhall. The deluge then turned west into the Santa Clara River bed, flooding the towns of Castaic Junction, Fillmore, Bardsdale. The flood continued through Santa Paula in Ventura County, emptying its victims and debris into the Pacific Ocean at Montalvo, 54 miles (87 km) from the reservoir and dam site. When it reached the ocean at 5:30am, the flood was almost two miles (3 km) wide, traveling at a speed of 5 miles (8 km) per hour. Bodies of victims were recovered from the ocean, some as far south as the Mexican border.
Telephone operators in Fillmore (notably Louise Gipe) and two motorcycle policemen in Santa Paula notified people in their homes of the danger, until the rising floodwaters forced their retreat.
Category: The 20th Century