November 19, 2013

EVENT: Explore the St. Francis Dam Disaster Site & LA Aqueduct

A long-time fan of their website, I've just become a field agent for Atlas Obscura's Los Angeles Obscura Society, the exploration arm which takes people to many weird and wondrous places in and around the LA area (including Pinball Forever, the Bunny Museum, the Moore Lab of Zoology, and many more).

Some of my readers have been asking me for the opportunity to join me on one of my adventures, so here's your first chance: visiting the St. Francis Dam Disaster Site, and two other key locations along the LA Aqueduct.

Here's the official invite and description. Tickets are on sale now (and, considering the difficulty of finding the sites and arranging access through the DWP, are totally reasonable in cost).
Come discover the remnants of the greatest American civil engineering failure of the 20th century 
Minutes before midnight on the evening of March 12, 1928, one of the worst disasters in California's history (and the greatest American civil engineering failure of the 20th century) occurred: the St. Francis Dam collapsed. Second only to the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, the dam break claimed over 450 lives (perhaps many more) as a flood of billions of gallons of water rushed down San Francisquito Canyon, from Santa Clarita all the way out to the ocean.

Much of the path of the water can still be traced today. On December 7, field agent Sandi Hemmerlein [that's me!] will take us to three main sites surrounding the disaster, all key points along the Los Angeles Aqueduct which celebrates its centennial this year. First, we will explore the exterior and interior of Power Station #1 (which survived the disaster) on an exclusive tour guided by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power staff for Society members only. 
Next, we will visit the disaster site itself, where remnants of the dam's 200-foot concrete wall can be seen from a decommissioned road, or up close (hiking optional). Finally, we will visit the St. Francis Dam historical marker at Power Station #2, whose building was completely swept away by the flood and was be rebuilt in ornate Art Deco style shortly thereafter. 
Both stations are essential to the LADWP's efforts to convert gravity-fed water along the aqueduct into usable power. 
- Please bring valid photo ID for security clearance. You'll be asked to provide ahead of the event as well as on the day of.
- Wear comfortable shoes, ie sneakers or hiking boots.
- Bring plenty of water.
- Carpooling is highly encouraged.
- Meeting location will be shared upon registration - appx. 35 miles north of Los Angeles.
- Plan ahead, the trip should take you 45-75 mins depending on where you are coming from in Los Angeles.
- The trip is on a Tuesday during the daytime, please be advised.

Here's your chance to explore history, take a tour of a municipal facility, do some urban exploration and some hiking (if you want), all in one excursion just north of LA!

Hope to see you there.

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