THE 1938 LOS ANGELES RIVER FLOOD

The Los Angeles River had been known to flood many times in Los Angeles early history, but never, as it had done during a four day storm starting on March 2,1938. Most of the rain fell on the fourth day and this was the 5 th largest flood in history. The Southern Pacific's first crossing is seen here washed out with two spans missing.

Near Dayton Avenue Tower and looking upstream showing the partly uncovered girders of the original double track bridge and the temporary bridge under construction. Photo courtesy S.P.Lines
One of the great engineering marvles at the time was to concrete the L.A. Riverbed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Dragline cranes, power shovels and dump trucks worked by the hundreds to lower the floor of the L.A. River. This photo is looking upstream from under the Pasadena Freeway Overpass.
Looking upstream from Riverside Drive Bridge, showing government work on the retaining wall. Taylor Yard and the Dayton Avenue Tower are on the right. Photo 1939, Courtesy S.P.Lines
Looking downstream from the west end of the Arroyo Seco Railroad Bridge on the east bank of the L.A. River. One span of the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge crossing the LA River was damaged during the 1938 flood, the Midway Yard is at the right. Photo 1939, courtesy S.P.Lines

Pre flood views

  • Homes on the Riverbed can be seen here in 1924 photograph, but the 1938 flood washed them away.
  • The Natural Riverbed showing auto frames tied together to protect Taylor Yard during its construction.
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