Santa Paula’s forgotten Mexican victims and survivors of the 1928 St. Francis Dam Disaster 

Erika Casillas and Dr. José Alamillo 

Abstract

Santa Paula’s forgotten Mexican victims and survivors of the 1928 St. Francis Dam Disaster
Erika Casillas
Chicano/a Studies Department

The 1928 St. Francis Dam Disaster was one of the worst man-made flood disasters, causing over 450 deaths, with many more missing, including ethnic Mexicans from Santa Paula living near the Santa Clara River. Many books on the St. Francis Dam, have focused on William Mulholland who built the dam, the politics of water, and the main causes of dam failure, but failed to mention the Mexican victims and survivors. For this paper, I will address the stories and experiences of the Mexican victims and survivors of the St. Francis Dam Disaster. I will be using La Voz de la Colonia newspaper and interviews of Mexican survivors to show how the flood disaster impacted their lives. My findings revealed that relatives of Mexican victims and survivors were greatly affected by this tragedy and continue to share their historical memory alive within their family and community. Finally, I will suggest why and how the St. Francis Dam disaster can be taught in Ventura County’s public schools and colleges.

Presentation

Session 1 – 1:30p.m. – 2:45p.m.

Room B – Sierra 1422

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