Santa Anita Dam
The Los Angeles County Public Works Department, Flood Control District, has made the largest impact on Big Santa Anita Canyon. On your way up the road to Chantry Flat you can’t help but notice Santa Anita Dam. It was completed in 1927 to store municipal water and to hold debris that might otherwise damage the downstream communities. In addition to the control room and other operations buildings the if full-time dam operators residence that is a two-bedroom home.
There is an associated gauging station for measuring the inflow, no longer used, just above Hermit Falls.
The DWP and a very different Forest Service decided to build the many “check dams” in the canyon, also to control debris. The first construction road was started in 1958 and by 1966, every section of the watershed contained check dams except the East Fork. All the clear-cutting, blasting, gunite-spraying, trout-blocking and general defacement was in vain. Three years later, as the waters of the 1969 flood receded, the check dams had been filled, causing the loss of nine cabins and forever changing the natural hydrology.
* NOTE: The above information was taken from the Glen Owens book The Heritage of the Big Santa Anita. We have since been informed that the check dams may have back filled as they were constructed – before the flood. Our informant has witnessed photographic proof of this.
The water system for Chantry Flat has been ever evolving. Currently the source is a vertical well (the lateral well has been abandoned) in Santa Oline Canyon, right next to the fire road. This is gravity fed to a pump house, also on the road, where the water is filtered and treated. From there it is sent to a 315,000 gallon storage tank just above the picnic area.
Also at Chantry, behind the picnic area is a large wooden shed. This was built by a group of volunteers, known as The Big Santa Anita Gang, to house trail tools. A corral and shelter was added by volunteer horse patrolmen.