Santa Paula Times

Booksigning of the recently released “St. Francis Dam Disaster” book written by John Nichols

December 04, 2002
Santa Paula News
The public is invited to a booksigning of the recently released “St. Francis Dam Disaster” by Santa Paula author/historian/curator John Nichols on Saturday, December 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the John Nichols Gallery, 916 E. Main St. in historic downtown Santa Paula. The book was recently published by Arcadia Publishing of Chicago and is priced at $19.99. For more information contact the gallery at 805-525-7804. Text from the back cover ofthe bookMinutes before midnight on the evening of March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam collapsed. The dam’s 200-foot high concrete wall crumpled, sending billions of gallons of raging flood waters down San Francisquito Canyon, sweeping 54 miles down the Santa Clara River to the sea, and claiming over 450 lives in the disaster. Captured here in over 200 images is a photographic record of the devastation caused by the flood, and the heroic efforts of residents and rescue workers.
Built by the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Water Works and Supply, the failure of the St. Francis Dam on its first filling was the greatest American civil engineering failure of the 20th century. Beginning at dawn on the morning after the disaster, stunned local residents picked up their cameras to record the path of destruction, and professional photographers moved in to take images of the washed out bridges, destroyed homes and buildings, Red Cross workers giving aid, and the massive clean-up of California’s second largest disaster, after the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.The majority of the images in this book come from the collection of the author, as well as from the archives of the Santa Paula Historical Society. John Nichols is the owner of the John Nichols Gallery in Santa Paula and Ventura, and Sespe Group - Creative Services, a curatorial and exhibit design firm, and is a member and past president of the local historical society.