such questions about the collapse are still debated, more than seven
decades later. The most recent study of the disaster comes from
University of Missouri at Rolla Professor J.
David Rogers, author of A Man, A Dam and A Disaster: Mulholland and
the St. Francis Dam (1995). Based on investigations conducted
shortly after the collapse in 1928, and his own research, Rogers used modern
analysis and computer models to develop a detailed reconstruction of the dam site, the dam, its collapse
and the aftermath. His work will bring our documentary up to date.
"The St. Francis Dam
Disaster" will draw upon rare, and some never seen publicly photographs and
film footage. We will also illustrate our story with dramatic recreations,
and mostly dramatically, photo-realistic 3-D computer animation,
based on actual engineering models. Tying it together will be on
screen commentary from contemporary historians and dramatic new interviews
with surviving eyewitnesses.
RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Our story begins
more than 20 years before the collapse. Its roots are in the
controversial construction of the Los Angeles-Owens River Valley aqueduct.
Historians such as Abraham Hoffman, author of Vision or Villany:
Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy,
will offer insights to this section. It is also the story of one of
America's grandest visionaries, William Mulholland, the man who made the 250
mile-long aqueduct a reality, one of the great engineering feats of the
early 20th Century.
god-like stature for many Californians, but to the residents of the Owens
River Valley he was the devil incarnate. His aqueduct, they claimed,
was stealing their water and raping their agricultural valley. Some
fought back with violence, attempting to disrupt the aqueduct with dynamite.
There also were claims that Mulholland's epic engineering feat was some kind
of scam to benefit a few wealthy inside investors,
including the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Harry Chandler.
As we'll see, the creation of the aqueduct story is more complex and more interesting than
it is commonly portrayed -- a good vs. evil morality tale. It is a story
that requires an understanding of an America changing from a rural to urban
society, private vs. public ownership of municipal utilities, the "greatest
good for the greatest number" values of Teddy Roosevelt's progressivism, as
well as the freewheeling business practices of the time. Historians
Norris Hundley, Jr. (The Great Thirst, Californians and Water: A
D.C. Jackson (Great American Bridges and Dams) will contribute to this section. It is clear that
limited water resources and Southern California's explosive population
growth, exacerbated by booster-driven Los Angeles and the violent resistance
of Owens Valley residents, led to the building of the St. Francis Dam and