On this upcoming day in history 12 March 1928 the St Francis Dam collapse

95 years ago today the St Francis Dam collapsed in the San Francisquito Canyon, California. The Dam collapsed due to design flaws and a defective soil foundation.

Built in March of 1926 the Dam was intended to regulate and store as a reservoir for Los Angeles County. It was located 10 miles from LA and 40 miles from what is today known as Santa Clarita. It would kill 500 people.

The dam was designed and built by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, then named the Bureau of Water Works and Supply. The department was under the direction of its general manager and chief engineer, William Mulholland. The disaster effectively ended Mulholland’s career. Items are highlighted to take to Wikipedia if you need a quick shortcut to more detail as to the history of the disaster.

It seems fitting to post with recent events involving the Norfolk Southern train crashes in Ohio, and Alabama. An example of what happens if we allow a problem to manifest without addressing it.

In Mullholland’s defense he did try to warn but it was either ignored, or not comprehended as to what could go possibly wrong.

The Governor’s commission was established and the following items were the conlusions as to what was discovered.

  1. The type and dimensions of the dam were amply sufficient if based on suitable foundation.
  2. The concrete of which the dam was built was of ample strength to resist the stresses to which it would normally be subjected.
  3. The failure cannot be laid to movement of the earth’s crust.
  4. The dam failed as a result of defective foundations.
  5. This failure reflects in no way the stability of a well-designed gravity dam properly founded on suitable bedrock.

    After the investigation was close. The rest of the dam was destroyed by dynamite and the center piece was kept as a memorial. The legislation created Dam safety program to ensure accidents like this didn’t happen again.

    Below are some links if you care to read. Have a good day





Published by My life so far

Retired from the Air Force 3 years ago after a successful 20 year career. Have been enjoying this new adventure I am on

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