Friday, August 29, 2014

Photo Essay: Hansen Dam, from Floods to Drought

Considering the drought we're in now here in California, it's hard to believe that flooding was once a major concern in the LA area – enough to channelize the lush LA River with concrete walls and bottom, and institute other flood control measures, like the massive horseshoe-shaped Hansen Dam.



Located at the foot of the Angeles National Forest, near Big Tujunga Wash, the dam (at the time, the world's largest of its kind) was built by nearly 1000 men after the catastrophic floods of 1938  – though, as evidenced by the nearby Verdugo Hills Cemetery, it didn't necessarily fix the area's flooding problem altogether.



These days, with everything all dried up, Hansen Dam is known more as just a recreation area...



...its earthen wall creating a nice elevated surface for a bike path...



...for people to wheel, run, and push their strollers high above the bridle trails to the north, and the golf course to the south. (It's a good spot to witness any horses sinking into the reported quicksand below, too.)



But as you reach the middle of the dam...



...you area reminded of its function...



...with a spillway topped by a bridge...



...and a channel that doesn't stop the water from flowing...



...but merely slows it down to prevent another flooding catastrophe.



Out there...



...with the mountains in the distance...



 ...and the horses below...



...Hansen Dam is an engineering marvel that offers panoramic views of the San Fernando Valley...



...whether or not there's any flowing water to be slowed down.



As for now, despite the drought, you can still find plenty of water in the nearby recreation lake (which offers fishing and boating)...



... and at Hansen Dam Aquatic Center's "swim lake," which provides 1.5 acres of chlorinated water for swimming, two water slides, a manmade beach, and all those mountain valley vistas.

For me, this place is far more interesting than any of LA's more popular beaches (many of which I've visited, but have had nothing to write about).

Related Posts:
Los Angeles River's Beautiful Ugly