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Step closer to dam memorial

OW Staff Writer | 7/14/2017, midnight

A bill to create a national memorial and monument to victims of the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster was approved this week by the House of Representatives.

H.R. 2156, by Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village), would create a national memorial at the site of a dam in the San Francisquito Canyon, about 10 miles north of Santa Clarita.

The memorial to the 431 people killed by the collapse of the dam and subsequent flood would be funded by private donations. The bill would also establish a 440-acre national monument encompassing the designated national memorial area that was devastated by the flood.

“The St. Francis Dam Disaster of 1928 is a devastating reminder of how powerful nature can be,” Knight said last month after the bill was unanimously passed by the House Natural Resources Committee.

“This bill not only serves as a memorial but will also help educate the public of the tragedy that once shook our community.”

Brownley called the dam collapse “one of the biggest disasters in California’s history, second only to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, yet its story is relatively unknown.”

“From the more than 430 victims claimed by the disaster to the heroes, such as Officer Edward Thornton who rode his motorcycle in the dead of night to warn residents of the impending flood, it is important we commemorate this rich and significant part of our regional and national history and honor those who lost their lives,” Brownley said.

A similar bill was approved by the House last year, but no action on it was taken by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.