(above) A worker and/or a volunteer giving a vaccine to a farmworker. Sunday, March 14th, over 400 local farmworkers received their Covid-19 vaccination at Fillmore Middle School! A lastminute call for volunteers to assist in this effort, and in a 24-hour period, 15 volunteers helped to register 188 of these farmworkers. It would not have happened without this effort. Thank you, Community, for coming together for the health of our essential farmworker families and congratulations to these newly vaccinated essential workers. Photos courtesy Fillmore City Council Member Christina Villasenors Facebook page.
(above) A worker and/or a volunteer giving a vaccine to a farmworker. Sunday, March 14th, over 400 local farmworkers received their Covid-19 vaccination at Fillmore Middle School! A lastminute call for volunteers to assist in this effort, and in a 24-hour period, 15 volunteers helped to register 188 of these farmworkers. It would not have happened without this effort. Thank you, Community, for coming together for the health of our essential farmworker families and congratulations to these newly vaccinated essential workers. Photos courtesy Fillmore City Council Member Christina Villasenors Facebook page.
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Volunteers helping farmworkers register to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
Volunteers helping farmworkers register to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
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The First Presbyterian Church on Sespe and Clay Street. The original church building was destroyed by a fire in 1912. Photos courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum.
The First Presbyterian Church on Sespe and Clay Street. The original church building was destroyed by a fire in 1912. Photos courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum.
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Catholic Church circa 1925.
Catholic Church circa 1925.
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Architectural Digest photos of the Christian Science Church.
Architectural Digest photos of the Christian Science Church.
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Fillmore Community Church.
Fillmore Community Church.
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The former sanctuary at the Presbyterian Church, now an event space. Photo courtesy Fillmore on Central.
The former sanctuary at the Presbyterian Church, now an event space. Photo courtesy Fillmore on Central.
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New Foursquare Church on Sespe circa 1940.
New Foursquare Church on Sespe circa 1940.
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Fire at Foursquare Church 1939.
Fire at Foursquare Church 1939.
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Mexican American Methodist Church - Asamblea De Alabanza.
Mexican American Methodist Church - Asamblea De Alabanza.
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First Brethren/Church of the Nazarene.
First Brethren/Church of the Nazarene.
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Olga Graves visiting Foursquare Church circa 1938.
Olga Graves visiting Foursquare Church circa 1938.
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Presbyterian Church on Central circa 1935.
Presbyterian Church on Central circa 1935.
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Courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum

One of the regular readers to this column requested more information on the various “vintage” churches. The first three decades of the twentieth century was a golden age for church architecture in Fillmore. The town was incorporated in 1914 and some stability had come to what had been a rather wild west town.

In 1912, a Catholic Church was built on the corner of First and Central on property donated by Leon Hammond. A simple, wood structure which would have been at home in a New England village was erected. By the mid-seventies, the congregation had far outgrown its capacity and St. Francis of Assisi Church was built on Ventura Street. The original building is now a private residence.

Shortly after the Catholic Church was built, down the street the First Brethren Church was completed in 1918 on Central, just north of Sespe. In 1978 the Church of the Nazarene moved to the building from its former home at 962 Third Street. Its presence anchors the 400 block of Central Avenue.

The Presbyterians congregation was organized in 1889 on the corner of Clay and Sespe. The original building was destroyed by fire so in 1912, a new, larger structure was built. The congregation remained at the location until 1929.

The new Presbyterian Church was an impressive, Spanish revival structure on the southwest corner of First and Central. The fundraising for the new building was spearheaded by Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Price. The construction of the church was followed closely by the community. It was built by local builders, Hasting and Yeakle. It later became Faith Community Church and is now a private event space, Fillmore on Central.

When the Presbyterian congregation left the building on Sespe for the new building on Central Avenue in 1929, the Full Gospel Tabernacle, led by Rev. Elmer Gottschalk, which had been holding services at 352 Fillmore, moved in on February 1, 1930. For reasons that are hidden in the mists of time, they closed in May 1930.

The building did not stand vacant long. Foursquare Gospel Light Church had been started a few years earlier was a branch of Aimee Semple MacPherson’s Angelus Temple Foursquare Church in Los Angeles. It had been meeting at Central and Santa Clara in the former Fillmore State Bank building. They moved into their own church building in May of 1931. Besides its own pastor, if often hosted guests such as radio evangelist, Olga Graves, who had a national following.

Unfortunately, on September 23, 1938 in the late afternoon, the wood frame building caught fire and was destroyed. The fire department found the cause to be juveniles “playing” in the outhouse next to the structure. Suspicion was the juveniles involved were probably smoking. The Congregation moved to temporary quarters at 361 Central Avenue.

A new building on the same site was completed the next year in May. A clean lined building that called to mind the “foursquare” name of the domination, it remained the Foursquare Church until just a few years ago. The location is now in its fourth incarnation as Sembradores Church.

Finishing off this era of church building on Central Avenue (no slight intended to more modern structures), is what is now the Wayfarers Chapel Lutheran Church at Second and Central. This building was built in 1929 for the Christian Science Church. It was designed by award winning architect H. Roy Kelley and was highly praised for its beauty and simplicity.

It was later purchased by Rev. Ernest Miller and became the Fillmore Community Church. It continued as the Fillmore Community Church until Rev. Miller’s death in 1982.

Not all the era’s churches were built on Central Avenue. The Mexican American Methodist Mission Church was built about 1922 on the corner of Clay and Main Street. The church was founded by Reverend Dr. Vicente Mendoza with financial backing from George N. and Hattie King. In 1971 the Asamblea de Alabanza Cristiana Church took over the building.

These buildings are a testament to the optimism and dedication of the early settlers in Fillmore. They were built to last, and they have.

 


 
Fillmore Lions Club annual Student Speaker Contest winner Emilia Magdaleno, a junior at Fillmore High School.
Fillmore Lions Club annual Student Speaker Contest winner Emilia Magdaleno, a junior at Fillmore High School.

The Fillmore Lions’ Club hosted the Student Speaker Contest on Monday, March 15 with the topic “Distance and Virtual Learning, Pros and Cons”. It was a tightly contested competition with excellent speakers Alanna Garcia and Carmen Isabela Ibarra as finalists and Emilia Magdaleno as winner. All of the speakers had done in depth research, but also shared their personal views. Some of the positive points were that it increases the student’s ability to manage their time, gives them more time to concentrate on each subject and there is no bullying. Negatives mentioned were the strain on the body for sitting so long in one position, looking at a screen all day long, lack of peer interaction, difficulty for those families that didn’t have someone to stay home and help the younger children access the internet and focus on their classes.

The Student Speaker Contest was held at the Edmonds’ Hall in the One Step a la vez facility and was held both live and on Zoom. It is fitting that the event was in the hall named after the last Chairperson of the Speaker Contest, Bill Edmonds. Bill was the Student Speaker Chair for 37 years and passed the chair to his wife, Lynn and Gaylynn Brien.

A special thank you to the judges, FUSD Board Member Tricia Gradias, Dr. Cynthia King and Rev. Bethany Carpenter. President Steve McKeown opened the meeting and congratulated all of the participants.

 


 
On Monday, March 8th at 4:25pm, a single vehicle crash at the corner of Mountain View and Ventura Street (SR-126) took down a power pole, exposing live wires. The Chevy Trax sustained significant front-end damage. No injuries were reported. Sheriffs set up a road blocked between Ventura and Santa Clara Street while they investigated and cleared the area. SoCal Edison was on scene to remove the pole.
On Monday, March 8th at 4:25pm, a single vehicle crash at the corner of Mountain View and Ventura Street (SR-126) took down a power pole, exposing live wires. The Chevy Trax sustained significant front-end damage. No injuries were reported. Sheriffs set up a road blocked between Ventura and Santa Clara Street while they investigated and cleared the area. SoCal Edison was on scene to remove the pole.
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On Friday, March 5th at 4:21pm, Fillmore Police and Fire responded to a vehicle fire at 352 Central Avenue in downtown Fillmore. Crews responded quickly to extinguish a dark blue Audi’s engine fire, while blocking off part of Central and Sespe Avenue/Main Street for about 30 minutes. Photos courtesy Angel Esquivel-AE News.
On Friday, March 5th at 4:21pm, Fillmore Police and Fire responded to a vehicle fire at 352 Central Avenue in downtown Fillmore. Crews responded quickly to extinguish a dark blue Audi’s engine fire, while blocking off part of Central and Sespe Avenue/Main Street for about 30 minutes. Photos courtesy Angel Esquivel-AE News.
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On Friday, March 5th at 3pm the first One Step Bike Club ride took place! This new program is to promote the positive aspects of biking, such as a healthy lifestyle and environment awareness. They had a blast listening to oldies and riding around Fillmore. Thank you to all the youth who joined and everyone who helped during the ride! We are DEFINITELY doing this again! Reach out if you are interested in joining our next ride! For more information please contact Brisa Romero at (805) 625-1189 or email brisa@myonestep.org. Courtesy One Step A La Vez Facebook page.
On Friday, March 5th at 3pm the first One Step Bike Club ride took place! This new program is to promote the positive aspects of biking, such as a healthy lifestyle and environment awareness. They had a blast listening to oldies and riding around Fillmore. Thank you to all the youth who joined and everyone who helped during the ride! We are DEFINITELY doing this again! Reach out if you are interested in joining our next ride! For more information please contact Brisa Romero at (805) 625-1189 or email brisa@myonestep.org. Courtesy One Step A La Vez Facebook page.
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The 2021 Flashes Cross Country Team.
The 2021 Flashes Cross Country Team.
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Junior Angelica Herrera.
Junior Angelica Herrera.
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Senior Boys (l-r) Erick Gutierrez, Fabian Del Villar, and Matthew Munoz.
Senior Boys (l-r) Erick Gutierrez, Fabian Del Villar, and Matthew Munoz.
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"Flash Pack" leading the race is Fabian Del Villar followed by teammates Michael Camilo Torres and Erick Gutierrez.
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On March 6th, the Flashes boys and girls cross country teams competed in their final meet of the season. The meet was hosted by Hueneme High School. The course was relatively flat, starting and finishing on the track with loops on the adjacent sports fields, and the sidewalk around the school’s perimeter for a total distance of 3 miles.

All teams ran under sunny, but cool skys with minimal to no wind.

Start time for the Flashes was 9 a.m.. Once again the start format used in prior meets was adhered to. Runners were grouped according to like ability with fastest runners going first, in groups of 2 or 3, approximately 15 seconds apart. Only one school was on the course at a time. Fillmore was the second team to post finishing times.

Fabi Del Villar, Camilo Torres, and Erick Gutierrez were the first group off the line. Fabi posted the best time for the day running a very good 15:47.39, he was followed by last week’s winner, Camilo Torres. Camilo posted the second fastest time of the day running a 16:09.99. Erick Gutierrez followed in 17:57.35, Matthew Munoz 18:53.82, and first time competitor, freshman Josh Estrada in 19:18.08. Three freshmen finished with season best times, led by Diego Ramirez in 21:08.45, Angel Garcia 21:53.06, and Kobe Lizarraga in 22:04.70.

The girls were led by second year runner Alianna Tapia who for the second time this season posted the fastest time of the meet for all girl competitors, by running a fine 20:44.91. She was supported by Angelica Herrera in 25:45.56, Andrea Laureano in 26:24.18, Camila Rodriguez 30:24.32, and Daisy Guerrero in 30:45.24.

It was a short, but sweet season. It was so much fun to see our kids participate in a sport and run so well through our final meet of 3. Congratulations to all, well done.

Many of these athletes will now transition to the sport of track and field. Practice for track and field starts on Monday, March 15th at 3:45 p.m.

 
Congratulations to Fillmore’s Brennon Ballard who competed in Florida at the Jacksonville American Cornhole League (ACL) Open February 26th – 28th 2021. He competed in four events: Junior Singles placing 2nd, Normal Singles placing 9th, Doubles placing 7th, and in Crew Cup-a Four man team-placing 5th Brennon started playing a year and a half ago is currently ranked 2nd in the State of California and has been successful since. Next, he plans to compete at the 2021 ACL World Championships in Rock Hill South Carolina in August.
Congratulations to Fillmore’s Brennon Ballard who competed in Florida at the Jacksonville American Cornhole League (ACL) Open February 26th – 28th 2021. He competed in four events: Junior Singles placing 2nd, Normal Singles placing 9th, Doubles placing 7th, and in Crew Cup-a Four man team-placing 5th Brennon started playing a year and a half ago is currently ranked 2nd in the State of California and has been successful since. Next, he plans to compete at the 2021 ACL World Championships in Rock Hill South Carolina in August.
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Basolo home in Bardsdale, after the flood. Photos courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum.
Basolo home in Bardsdale, after the flood. Photos courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum.
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The St. Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon east of Castaic a few days before the collapse when it had just been filled to capacity. At three minutes to midnight on March 12th, 1928 the dam collapsed without warning causing a flood through the Santa Clara River Valley.
The St. Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon east of Castaic a few days before the collapse when it had just been filled to capacity. At three minutes to midnight on March 12th, 1928 the dam collapsed without warning causing a flood through the Santa Clara River Valley.
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Pictured above is the “Tombstone” which is all that remained standing after the collapse in 1928.
Pictured above is the “Tombstone” which is all that remained standing after the collapse in 1928.
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The Carrillo tombstone at Bardsdale Cemetery.
The Carrillo tombstone at Bardsdale Cemetery.
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The Memorial Plaque which sits at Bardsdale Cemetery as a reminder to those who were lost in the flood.
The Memorial Plaque which sits at Bardsdale Cemetery as a reminder to those who were lost in the flood.
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Courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum

On the night of March 12th -13th, 1928, devastation swept down the Santa Clara River Valley. The St. Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon just east of Castaic had reached its full capacity of twelve billion gallons a few days before. It had been constructed by Los Angeles Water and Power under the direction of William Mulholland. Its purpose was to hold a year’s supply of water for the growing population of Los Angeles. At 3 minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, the dam collapsed catastrophically and without warning.

There is still some question on exactly why the dam collapsed. Mulholland was a self-taught engineer who had successfully constructed the Los Angeles Aqueduct and was L.A. City Engineer. In very simplified terms, it is now believed that the dam was sited on a Paleolithic land slide and that the pressure of the water caused the ground beneath the dam to give way. It is doubtful with the knowledge and instruments of the day, this could have been known at the time.

A 140’ wall of water carried 1,000-ton blocks of concrete from the dam like rafts on a wave. Of the 75 families living in the canyon just beneath the dam, only a few individuals survived.

The water continued down San Francisquito Creek to meet the Santa Clara River at Castaic. At Castaic Junction, where Hwy 5 crosses the east end of the Santa Clara Valley, the wall of water was 78’ in height. There was a construction camp there with 170 men asleep. With no warning, 164 men died.

Edison company workers, camped at Kemp Station on the Ventura County line, were stringing electric line from Saugus to Saticoy. The flood was 40’ high when it arrived there. Of the 140 men in camp that night 84 died.

The first the Rogers family in Piru knew of the disaster was when their home was adrift in the river. The father, Chester Rogers, gathered his family together on one bed, hoping to use it as a raft. As the battered house careened downstream, Mr. Rogers was knocked unconscious. When he recovered consciousness, he was alone in the torrent. He managed to drag himself to land over a half mile from where his home had stood. Some neighbors found him and took him into Piru. Later in the day rescue workers found the bodies of his mother-in-law and four children. His wife’s body was never found.

It took about an hour before the first warning of the impending disaster was given to the telephone operator on duty in Ventura. The Ventura operator called the local telephone operators in Santa Paula and Fillmore and the sheriff’s office. Fillmore Chief, Earl Hume, got the call, dressed, mounted his motorcycle and set out to warn people living closest to the river. By the time Hume got close to the east limits of Fillmore it was too late. The flood had hit with a wave 40 feet high.

Ethel Basolo, a Fillmore telephone operator living in Bardsdale, got the call to come to the telephone office in Fillmore to help get the word out to residents who had phone. She may have been the last person to cross the bridge before it was washed out. She left her extended family evacuating, not knowing how they would fare. Unfortunately, the car her brother-in-law, Georgie Basolo, was traveling in, was swept away and he was killed.

Of the many tragic stories that occurred that night was that of the Carrillo family of Bardsdale. The father, Juan Carillo, had loaded his family in the car and headed north to Guiberson Rd. On the way he stopped to warn a neighbor. He turned to see the car with his family being washed awayin the roaring water. Only he and his daughter survived.

Thelma McCauley was 14, sick with the measles, and living in lower Bardsdale with her family when the flood hit. They awakened to the sound and smell of the flood and the moving of the house. In their escape attempt, Thelma’s mother, father and brother went out the front door of the house and Thelma went out the back.

Her family was swept away by the force of the debris filled water and drowned. She said that the family was taken by the water and caught by the tumbling of the house. Thelma also was swept away by the water and floated the 9 miles from Bardsdale to Santa Paula. She was found that afternoon in a pile of debris unable to move because of heavy tree limbs on her legs.

The water continued to Santa Paula, taking more lives as it flowed to the ocean. The official total of fatalities at the time was 385; the total today is estimated to be 431. Many bodies were never identified.

In 2018, a 90th anniversary observance was held in the Valley and a monument was dedicated in the memory of the victims and installed at Bardsdale Cemetery.

In 2019, the dam was declared a National Memorial site. The St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation is raising funds for aninterpretive center.

For more information on the disaster in our community, go to the Fillmore Historical Museum webpage, https://www.fillmorehistoricalmuseum.org/st-francis-dam-disaster. The Santa Clarita Historical Society has an extensive webpage with links to original source information, http://saintfrancisdam.com/. If you would like information on the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation, it can be found at, https://stfrancisdammemorial.org/help-the-usfs-design-the-saint-francis-....