On March 12, 1928, a huge dam nestled in the foothills north of Los Angeles collapsed and spread death and devastation from Newhall to the Pacific Ocean near Ventura. Some 450 lives were lost, making this disaster equivalent in its human tragedy to the great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. But the earthquake was an act of God, while the dam's collapse resulted from the actions of men.
From its canyon above Castaic Junction the wall of deadly water was unleashed on the Santa Clara Valley and its ranches, citrus groves, towns of Fillmore, Santa Paula, and the valley south of Ventura. Homes, schools, bridges, highways, power lines, a railroad-all were ravaged under a blanket of seething water and debris.
This classic account of one of California's great tragedies is once again made available to the public after being out-of-print for over twenty years. It is a fascinating narrative, recounting the arrival of William Mulholland in 1877, the search for supplies of water for thirsty southern California, and the subsequent Owens Valley water troubles. The dam break and flood are vividly portrayed, with many eyewitness accounts. Post-mortems of the disaster are offered, including the unique legal history of relief and restitution by the City of Los Angeles on nearly 3,000 claims-none of which were ever filed through the courts!
Geology of the damsite, construction of the dam, mistrust of the structure by persons of the area, valley people's resentment of the mass destruction, relief work and restoration, investigations of the failure-all are presented in interesting, factual, and unbiased narration.