Skip to main content

S is for St. Francis Dam: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post


A plaque titled "St. Francis Dam Disaster Site" tells the history of the dam failure 
I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the nineteenth post in the series. 

Until recently, I had never heard about the St. Francis Dam nor its history. I had heard of William Mulholland--he's the man who is recognized as the one who brought water to Los Angeles via the aqueduct system--but I didn't realize that the St. Francis Dam disaster effectively ended his career. The dam was completed in 1926, only to fail in 1928 hours after Mulholland himself had inspected it. When the dam collapsed, the subsequent flood killed over 400 people, making it one of the worst disasters in California history. 

Rubble from the dam can still be seen, though locating it was a bit tricky. The plaque pictured above is near the power plant at 32300 San Francisquito Canyon Road in Santa Clarita. Continuing north on San Francisquito, just before a three-way stop, is a tiny pull out to park and hike down an old paved road. 

A car parks at the start of the paved road that leads to the dam site
After hiking on the road for about a mile, you will cross a bridge. Just after that, when the road turns to dirt, look for a narrow dirt path on the right. 

A narrow dirt path
Follow the trail and soon you will find big pieces of concrete on both sides of the path. Look closely and you will see metal parts embedded in the concrete. You have found the remains of the old dam.

Concrete chunks of the former St. Francis Dam

A metal bar sticks out of a concrete piece
It's sobering to realize that the rubble around you used to be a huge dam, and saddening to consider the loss of life that happened when the dam collapsed. Without that realization, though, the hike is a pleasant, easy stroll through a canyon. Would recommend if you are in the area, or if you enjoy visiting National Memorials and Monuments (which the St. Francis Dam Disaster is one of, though the vision of a visitor's center and memorial wall has yet to be funded and constructed.)


  1. What a sad event. I wonder if they ever figured out exactly what went wrong.


Post a Comment

Conversations are so much nicer when more than one person does the talking. :-) Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts; I'd love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

Ten Things of Thankful: Autumn Edition

It's autumn time, one of my favorite times of year.  I just couldn't leave this weekend as a one-post weekend.  

Ten Things of Thankful: Last Two Weeks

  Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, as viewed from an overlook I apologize for not commenting on your blog posts this past week; John and I took a vacation to Yellowstone National Park, leaving behind our computers and, to a large extent, cell phone service. We escaped the outside world and just spent time in nature. Though we have friends near Yellowstone (who we love to visit) we made this trip just about us, so please forgive us if we were nearby and didn't stop by. The crowds were minimal (though we did mask up whenever we passed someone on the trails) and we spent our days hiking, taking photos, and watching geysers erupt. Today, we are back home and back to work, and, in the case of my computer, back to old shenanigans like not letting me import my photos. (I was able to add the above photo by using blogger on my phone, but that isn't my preferred method.) I want to write about Yellowstone and have photos I want to share, but will leave that for another

Monday Mentions: Equate Crutches

Have you ever needed crutches? I hadn't, until a week ago.  I'm pretty sure I strained a muscle while running a half-marathon.  (That sounds kind of cool, doesn't it? I'm not actually that cool; the last time I strained a muscle it was from carrying too many shopping bags at once.) In any case, I found myself in need of some crutches. I sent my husband to the store to get some. Photo: A pair of crutches leans against a wall  Not that crutches are all that complex, but because I hadn't used any before, I wondered if I could figure out how to adjust them to fit me properly. I shouldn't have worried. John came home from Walmart with their generic store brand of crutches, complete with instructions. First, I needed to take out a long bolt that went through the hand grip. Then I needed to find my height range, push down two metal pieces, and slide the crutches until the little metal pieces came up in the hole near my height range. (Having two people for this