Coming Events


Date: March 10, 2018

Time: 11:00-16:00 PM

Location: Saugus Train Station

Lecture & Bus Tour to Dam Site

Speakers: Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, Dr. Alan Pollack


Please arrive at Heritage Junction at 10:30 AM to check in and secure your seat for the presentation


11:00-12:00 PowerPoint Presentation by Dr. Alan Pollack and Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel at the Saugus Train Station freight room


12:00 Q&A session with Alan, Dianne, and dam expert Frank Rock


12:30-3:00 Bus Tour To the Dam Site with Alan, Dianne, and Frank. Visit Powerhouse 2 (exterior only), Dam Site Ruins
We will hike to the Tombstone ruins, the Western Wing Dyke, The Pyramid formation, Block 16


Please wear long pants, long sleeves and tennis shoes/hiking boots. Water and a snack will be provided. You are welcome to bring your bag lunch to eat on the bus. A hat and sunscreen are recommended. Bring hiking poles if you have them. You will have a choice of  hikes which may include walking in brush, on uneven surfaces, and up a steep hill.


Return to Heritage Junction by 3:30
Heritage Junction address: 24101 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, CA 91321


For Reservations, please contact: 661-254-1275

or Pay here via Paypal:


Choose Number of Tickets

Cost: $40.00 per person, pre-paid, ($45.00 at the door, per person). Price includes a snack and bottled water


Funds raised will benefit programs of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. Because this tour is a very popular fund-raiser, it is impossible to guarantee that seats will be available for purchase on the day of the tour. Order your tickets now!


Alan Pollack has been featured on Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” and local television.

Dr. Alan Pollack at the Dam site.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel has been featured on SCVTV’s “Points of Interest”.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel at the LA Aqueduct intake in Owens Valley

Frank Rock has been featured on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and local television.

Frank Rock leading tour at Dam site.


Date: March 12, 2018

Time: 19:00-20:00 PM

Location: Ebell Park, at the corner of East Main and Seventh streets in Santa Paula

St. Francis Dam Disaster Candlelight Memorial
Ebell Park, Santa Paula, California
March 12, 2018

A St. Francis Dam Disaster Candlelight Memorial will be held on Monday, March 12, from 7 to 8 p.m., at Ebell Park, at the corner of East Main and Seventh streets in Santa Paula, to mark the 90th anniversary of the St. Francis Dam disaster.


The memorial will be a gathering of the community to remember those who lost their lives in the 1928 dam disaster, and to pay homage to the survivors and heroes of the tragedy.


The free event, hosted by the Santa Paula Historical Society, is open to the entire community.


The collapse of the St. Francis Dam, 10 miles north of Santa Clarita, is considered to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and remains the second-greatest loss of life in California history, after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.


At least 431 people died along the 54-mile path of destruction from the dam to the Pacific Ocean. Santa Paulans and many other unidentified dead were recovered in the city and are buried in a special section at Santa Paula Cemetery.


“Now, more than ever, it is important for us to remember this path of destruction,” said Edward Arguelles, a retired history teacher of 35 years who serves on the Santa Paula Historical Society board. “It reminds us that life is fleeting and that it can be taken quickly.”


The March 12 memorial will include a sea of yellow, blue and red electric candles in luminary bags representing those who died. Some of the candles will be placed by early arrivals to the event


Selected students from every Santa Paula school will place 16 red candles at Ebell Park, each one representing the identified Santa Paula victims, and a children’s choir will sing at the remembrance.


Peggy Kelly of Santa Paula, who has written extensively about the dam disaster, will present her short documentary about Police Chief Thornton Edwards, who rode his Indian motorcycle through town warning residents about the flood.

Also, John Nichols of Santa Paula, author of “St. Francis Dam Disaster,” will talk about “the nature of heroic acts before and after the St. Francis Dam disaster and how they are unique to that disaster and have similarities to all disasters. It puts us in touch with our basic humanity and connects us with everyone else during the disaster and during the recovery,” he said.


A metal sculpture of two Santa Paula police officers on motorcycles called “The Warning,” at Santa Paula’s 10th and Santa Barbara streets, commemorates the heroic actions of police, telephone operators and community members to warn people of the impending torrent the night the dam burst at 11:57 p.m. on March 12, 1928 The sculpture by Eric Richards was commissioned by the Santa Paula Historical Society and dedicated in March 2003.


Arguelles said the idea for the memorial came to him suddenly as he contemplated an event that would bring the community together. “I was struck by the color of water, candles and light,” Arguelles said, as he imagined an event that would provide “perspective and conceptualization of the magnitude of the disaster.”



Date: March 17, 2018

Location: Fillmore, California




Opening Ceremony and Dedication of Commemorative Plaque
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: Fillmore City Hall, 250 Central Avenue, Fillmore, CA 93015

Our day’s events commemorating the 90th anniversary of the St. Francis Dam disaster begin with the unveiling and dedication of a brownstone boulder embedded with a plaque to honor the dead and remember the survivors. Local officials will participate, and Fillmore Unified School District essay winners will be announced.


Presentation by Jon Wilkman
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Location: Fillmore City Council Chambers, 250 Central Avenue, Fillmore, CA 93015


Jon Wilkman, author of “Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles”, will give an informative and interesting account of the collapse of the St. Francis Dam and its aftermath. He will be available to sign copies of his book, which will be for sale.


Fillmore Historical Museum Display
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: Fillmore Historical Museum 350 Main St. Fillmore, CA 93015

Fillmore Historical Museum will have artifacts, videos, and visual displays of the St. Francis Dam and its victims and survivors.


Lunch & Shopping Opportunities
Central Avenue restaurants will be available for lunch and include: American, Mexican and Japanese cuisine. Local businesses including unique shops and antique stores will be open for shopping.


Bus Tour to St. Francis Dam site
Time 12:30 p.m. (to Santa Clarita) to 5:30 p.m. (return to Fillmore)
Location: Location will be given when reservations are made

Expert guides will review the history of the Dam, and its victims and survivors, on the way to and from the Dam site. See the pathway the flood took, and hear about the communities and individuals it affected. Cost of the tour is $30 per person, and seating is limited. To reserve a seat contact the Fillmore Historical Museum at (805) 524-0948. Water will be provided on the bus.



Date: March 18, 2018

SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2018




Prayer Service, Remarks by Archeologist Ann Stansell, and Cemetery Tour

– A prayer for St. Francis Dam disaster victims who are buried in the Piru Cemetery, readings, and remarks by archaeologist Ann Stansell will begin the program.  This will be followed by a tour of the cemetery led by John Avila and placement of floral remembrances at the victim’s graves led by Debi Chessani of the Piru Cemetery Association. – 11:00 AM, Piru Cemetery, 3580 Center Street, Piru.


Story Sharing by Survivors and Descendants of Victims and Survivors

Survivors, and descendants or friends of victims and survivors from throughout the flood path are invited to join with anyone interested in preserving the history of this important event, the St. Francis Dam Disaster, to share their stories.  Maria Christopher will coordinate the Story Sharing. Irma Torres will provide Spanish translation as needed.  A picnic is planned.  Attendees can also enjoy music, corridos, and Rancho Camulos museum tours as well as visit the special St. Francis Dam Disaster, Camulos Connections exhibit. – 1:00- 3:00 P.M. 

All welcome. Reservations required please respond to :. 805-524-7500, Rancho Camulos Museum, 5164 E. Telegraph Rd, Piru.


Floodpath Faces – Presentation by Archeologist Ann Stansell

Archaeologist and historian, Ann Stansell, will present Faces of the Flood path.  Her comments will focus on her  master’s thesis research to accurately identify the number of victims and their burial locations as well as how the victims have been commemorated and remembered throughout the 54-mile flood zone through community memorialization and grave markers.  3:00 PM , Ranch Camulos Museum, 5164 E. Telegraph Rd., Piru


Showing of the 1928 Delores Del Rio “Ramona” Movie – 4:30 PM,

While sad news of the St. Francis Dam collapse filled the newspapers , images of the beautiful Delores Del Rio as Ramona filled the silent screen.   The silent movie screening will be hosted by film historian, Hugh Munro Neely, who was involved with the discovery and restoration of this lost film. Rancho Camulos is a National Historic Landmark,  acknowledged as the setting for Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel, Ramona, and therefore is known as the “Home of Ramona”.  Mr. Neely will also talk about the film viewing experience in the Santa Clara River Valley in that era.   – 4:30 PM Rancho Camulos Museum, 5164 E. Telegraph Rd., Piru.  Donation appreciated .

For a complete listing of activities and events throughout the March 2018 St. Francis Dam Disaster Commemoration Month , go to  That website also has extensive written and audiovisual information about the st. Francis Dam and the disaster that occurred on March 12-13, 1928.



Date: March 25, 2018

Flood Plain Tour-52 miles
Tour of affected properties in flood plain from Santa Clarita to Santa Paula

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, Executive Director, Community Hiking Club (Santa Clarita), Board of Directors, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

Dr. Alan Pollack, President Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

Ann Stansell, Archaeologist with National Park Service, Board of Directors, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

Docent at Rancho Camulos


Tennis shoes and comfortable/casual attire are recommended. Sunscreen and a hat are optional, but also recommended. You will be doing some minimal walking on this trip. You may bring snacks/lunch on the bus.
Meet the bus at 9:00 AM at Heritage Junction: 24101 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, CA 91321


Cost: $55.00 per person prepaid only
For Reservations, please contact: 661-254-1275 

Or pay here via Paypal:


Choose Number of Tickets


Powerhouse 1/Powerhouse 1 Village

View of the Powerhouse and village, with a walk around the small park to view equipment used in the building of the aqueduct and the St. Francis Dam-photo opportunities

Alan Pollack 


St. Francis Dam-

Short hike to the dam foundation overlook for photos.

Alan Pollack


Powerhouse 2 Village-

View from bus, Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel will tell you about the Lyman Curtis Family and the Ray Rising Family.


Powerhouse 2

Brief walk to the 2 plaques at Powerhouse 2 and the Forest Fire Station.

Alan Pollack 


Harry Carey Ranch site (Tesoro Del Valle)-

Walk around the grounds of Harry Carey’s ranch

Alan Pollack


Edison substation-brief stop for photo-

Alan Pollack


Magic Mountain Ridge Route Bridge washout

Brief walk to see where the flood took out the bridge. (Subject to permission of Magic Mountain.)

Alan Pollack


Santa Paula Oil Museum

1/2 hour allotted for viewing the museum exhibits-On your own

Brief stop for photos

Alan Pollack


Santa Paula Cemetery-

Ann Stansell will talk to you about the St. Francis victims buried on this site, known and unknown


Bardsdale Cemetery-

Ann Stansell will talk to you about the St. Francis victims buried on this site, known and unknown



Rancho Camulos-

Mini Tour at the Rancho by a docent


Gottardi Ranch-

The loss of 5 members of the Gottardi family is one example of the many tragedies that occurred as a result of the breach of the St. Francis Dam. You will hear their stories.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel 


Edison Kemp Camp/Blue Cut-

This is the site of the single largest loss of life in the flood plain.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel