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Sep 27

Train wreck, Salinas Dam construction World War II week by week

September 20, 1941 Telegram-Tribune front page

Lucky no one was killed. A San Miguel taxicab skidded and stalled on the Southern Pacific railroad tracks at 1:30 A.M. The awkward angle made removal difficult from the ranch crossing. The Camp Roberts soldiers who had been passengers went far enough down the rails to flag the oncoming Southern Pacific Lark with clothing they had set ablaze. The passenger train was able to stop in time and the crew was busy clearing the tracks. Seven minutes later the Lark was hit by a following southbound fast merchandise freight, "LCL". Three train crew members were injured and one of the 140 passengers.
The 80 car freight had been signaled and was braking but it was unable to stop in time. Five of the SP crew members were from San Luis Obispo.

Millions of dollars were pouring into the county and was a remarkable timeline. In less than a year the Salinas Dam would hold back the Salinas River. Work had begun July 1 and 250 yellow helmeted men were working in three shifts pouring the concrete for the 140 foot dam. The project was overseen by the quartermaster's office at Camp San Luis Obispo. The dam was expected to be completed by March 1, 1942, less than a year to finish the streamlined variable radius arch structure. It was expected to cost $2,500,000 and store 145,000 acre feet of water. The footings were anchored 40 feet deep into the canyon, 14 feet thick at the base and would store water from a 110 square mile watershed. The water was slated for use by Camp San Luis Obispo and the city of San Luis Obispo and three companion projects were underway at the same time. The tunnel through Cuesta Summit, pumping plant near Santa Margarita, and rerouting six miles of Pozo road above the new lake.
The tunnel crew was drilling 30 feet a day and clearing a six by eight foot path through the mountain.

In other news President Roosevelt signed into law a tax increase as the nation began to prepare for war. The measure was billed as necessary to meet the costs of building an "arsenal of democracy." More increases were expected as the world situation worsened.

Next to the tax story was the announcement that the United States would supply the Soviet Union with hundreds of tanks an airplanes to defend against the Nazi invasion. Kiev was surrounded and fell, five Russian armies were lost at the cost of 350,000 casualties.

Related posts:

  1. Map of the Pacific, World War II week by week
  2. Japan’s cabinet resigns, World War II week by week
  3. Japan wants peace, World War II week by week
  4. Salinas tunnel accident, World War II week by week
  5. Lark Train Wreck