By Pony Horton

“My name is Pony R. Horton. I am a third generation Native Californian, raised in the San Fernando Valley.

I first became aware of the St. Francis Dam story in about 1984 when I was at a movie theater and they ran an ad for the L.A. Times ahead of the film. The ad featured historic Los Angeles Times covers, and this one detailed the St. Francis Disaster. I’ll never forget the stark, gloomy, foreboding quality the old image of the dam’s remains had, and how that image burned into my mind. From then on, I began a serious study of the history of the disaster.

By 1994, I was an experienced journalist, and I used that experience to dig deep into the story, and it was at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archives that I met William Mulholland, through his writing and his dedicated work for the Los Angeles Bureau of Water Works and Supplies, later the DWP.

My contributions to keeping the dam story alive have come in the form of written works, including an Op Ed published in the Newhall Signal. My background as a visual effects artist in Hollywood has helped in that I’m the ONLY person in the world to have published my colorized images of the St. Francis Dam in The Journal of The American Society of Civil Engineers, accompanying scholarly articles by Dr. J. David Rogers.

To date I am still finishing the post production on a film of my own making titled “A TEST OF INTEGRITY”, the story of William Mulholland and Harvey Van Norman, against the backdrop of the dam disaster.

I also have the only television interview ever recorded of former DWP Chief Engineer Robert V. Phillips, who worked for Van Norman and whose father was in charge of the disaster clean-up and worked under Mulholland and Van Norman.

Here are a few images that I have created, and a few links to my work on the subject:”

Colorized photo of St. Francis Dam pre-collapse by Pony Horton.
Colorized photo of the St. Francis Dam post-collapse by Pony Horton. This photo is used as the logo for the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation.
Colorized photo of the “Tombstone” by Pony Horton