Forgotten Tragedy Film Tells the Story Behind The St. Francis Dam National Monument
America Finally Has A Monument to Honor the 431 People Killed 91 Years Ago Tonight. The Story Behind The Tragedy Is Told in an Award Winning Film by a SoCal Filmmaker
Los Angeles, CA (PRUnderground) March 13th, 2019
With the stroke of a pen, the President signed into law a lands bill that created or expanded several national monuments. Among these, is the St. Francis Dam National Monument, a designation that will protect the site of America’s worst man-made disaster of the 20th centiury. At the same time, it will commemorate the 431 people who lost their lives and the thousands of people whose lives were forever altered.
Ninety-one years ago tonight, 431 souls headed to bed for the last time, unaware that the St Francis Dam, a mammoth structure capable of holding a year’s supply of water for Los Angeles, was ticking toward failure in the hills near present day Sylmar. People of all ages, across Los Angeles County and Ventura County, went to sleep. Children imagined birthdays, babies snuggled in with parents, and families that had lived on the land for generations, prepared to end another day. For those people, it was to be their last.
At 11:57 and 30 second the St. Francis Dam failed, unleashing a wall of water 18 stories high down the canyon. When that wave would eventuallky reach the Pacific over 5 1/2 hours later, over 400 people would be dead, 25 entire families would be wiped out, and the career of William Mulholland (and engineering legend) would be ended.
The failure of the St Francis Dam stands as the worst man-made disaster of the 20th century. Yet, it has been forgotten on all but a local level. This is especially surprising when one considers that in the days immediately following the failure, news spread all across the world. Southern California filmmaker, Jesse Cash, set out to rectify this failure of memory by making his film Forgotten Tragedy:The Story of the St. Francis Dam, which is amazingly the first feature length documentary to tackle the subject. Featuring newly-discovered film footage, not seen since the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, this award winning film tells the story behind the construction and failure of this massive structure, and leads viewers on a trip through the tense water wars that surrounded the growth of Los Angeles, from a small pueblo of 9000 people to one of America’s great cities.
Cash said, “I just couldn’t believe that nobody knew about this tragedy! How could a disaster like that happen immediately outside of Los Angeles, and be forgotten, ever? I set out to make this film, hoping to shed some light on the tragedy, and to see how we can learn from it today. In the process, I learned how important it was for us as a people to remember these events and the people involved. I could not be happier that the disaster is finally receiving some national attention. Hopefully, it helps to honor those lost. If my film has helped in any way, I am greatful…It is fitting that the site of the tragedy is being honored 91 years later to the day.”
Forgotten Tragedy tells the story of these remarkable events, and is available on Amazon’s Prime Video, Vimeo, and soon on DVD.
About Little Spark of Madness Films, LLC
Little Spark of Madness Films LLC, is a film company dedicated to bringing hidden stories to life through documentaries and short films. Focussing on shining a light on the forgotten aspects of our lives and history, Little Spark of Madness Films aims to work with up and coming talent, and to use creative storytelling techniques to bring these tales to the viewing public