A Weir to Do Man’s Bidding: The Great San Gabriel Dam Fiasco, 1917–1929

Jared Orsi

in Hazardous Metropolis

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238503
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930087 | DOI:
A Weir to Do Man’s Bidding: The Great San Gabriel Dam Fiasco, 1917–1929

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In its 1915 majority report, the Board of Engineers estimated that it would take only five years and $16.5 million to construct a network of check dams, diversion channels, and other devices to tame the county's waters. These structures, they predicted, would “permanently relieve the people of Los Angeles county from the menace of future floods.” By the end of 1929, however, all the Flood Control District had to show for its efforts were a few successful projects, one enormous failure, a lot of wasted money, and a total loss of credibility. It was a dam that derailed the flood-control assembly line in the 1920s. Departing from the modest recommendations of the Board of Engineers, the Flood Control District concentrated its energies during the 1920s on building a twenty-five-million-dollar barrier, 425 feet high, across San Gabriel Canyon in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles. The San Gabriel Dam, which at the time promised to be the world's tallest, would smooth out an uneven landscape.

Keywords: Flood Control District; San Gabriel Dam; Board of Engineers; Los Angeles county

Chapter.  9526 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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