Category: Write It forward (page 1 of 10)

A California Dam that failed in 1928 with devastating results- and there’s one just like it, still in LA

Given the concern over the Oroville Dam, let’s not underestimate the danger. We can look to history for how bad this can become.

3 minutes before midnight on 12 March 1928, the St. Francis Dam, north of Los Angeles, failed.

Designed by William Mulholland, a self-taught engineer, the story of why the dam failed is in my short nonfiction book, which is free for download here.

It’s curious to note there is a sister dam just like it, the Mulholland Dam in LA, holding the Hollywood Reservoir. While it was greatly reinforced after the St. Francis disaster, it’s something to think about.

Never underestimate the power of water.

Here are some more images from the disaster. Mulholland at the site of the collapse the day after:


And below is the dam before

and after

Cool Gus and Sassy Becca settle down in our new place

While Write onĀ  the River is in the past, we’re very happy and excited to be Writing Scenic, our new place. Built in 1929, the house has a warm feel to it and is closer to downtown Knoxville, as well as the river and many parks. A library is only two blocks away!

Gus and Becca have a lot more yard– and it’s mostly flat.

I do need to slide another dog bed under my desk, but they also have a nice little niche between the kitchen and breakfast room where they’re out of the way, yet can maintain a careful, guard dog watch on all action, particularly where the food is going.

We don’t have a schedule yet for workshop or retreats, but will be making one soon. Once I get the go-ahead from the boss that she’s happy with where things are. She came in my office today and mentioned two couches must move (“not right now”, which means pretty damn soon) but we’ve finally settled in.

Nothing but good times ahead!

“On brave, old Army team!”

Army actually won the game my plebe year at West Point, which gives you a partial idea that I’m old. That was 1977, when men were men, we ate rocks for breakfast, and the sheep ran scared. Manly men we were. Well, okay had some women too then, as we were the second class to allow women in. A girl from the class after mine, 1982, from our company– G-1– is actually the Commandant of Cadets now, which means I’m really old and she aint no girl. She’s a general.

West Point shaped a lot of this country when you consider the role of its graduates. Some curious pieces of information I had to memorize, among many others, were these, from “Bugle Notes”, issued to every New Cadet:





Essentially, the Civil War was a West Point War. As was the bloodiest war, percentage-wise, in our history that occurred just before the Civil War and blooded many of those future generals: The Mexican War. The first book in my trilogy, Duty, Honor, Country is FREE today and it starts in 1842 at West Point and takes two fictional cadets, along with their very real historical classmates, such as Ulysses S. Grant, Longstreet, George Pickett (who led the most successful charge of that war, as opposed to his later charge) from West Point to that bloody affair.

usssomers-awestpoint_mexicoThe reason our younger sibling, the Naval Academy was founded is part of the trilogy; the mutiny on board the USS Somers. A little known part of history, of which I was unaware until I was researching the book.

Note underneath the flag at the stern of the ship (that’s Navy talk for the back).

I find history fascinating and while we know what happened, often we don’t quite know WHY it happened. In the vein of HBO’s miniseries, ROME, I have my two cadets, Cord and Rumble, and they help shape the course of history!

Hope you enjoy and Go Army!

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