Hansen Dam

Hansen Dam is a flood control dam in the northeastern San Fernando Valley, in the Lake View Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.[1] The dam was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District in 1940.[2] Hansen Dam was named after horse ranchers Homer and Marie Hansen, who established a ranch in the 19th century.

Hansen Dam
Location of Hansen Dam in San Fernando Valley
CountryUnited States
LocationSan Fernando Valley
Coordinates34.26047°N 118.38556°W / 34.26047; -118.38556
PurposeFlood control
Construction began1939
Opening date1940
Owner(s) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsTujunga Wash
Height97 feet (30 m)
Length2 miles (3.2 km)
Total capacity74,100 acre⋅ft (91,400,000 m3)
Corps Lakes Gateway - Hansen Dam

The Hansen Dam Recreation Center is located in the flood control basin and surrounding slopes behind the dam.[3]


Hansen Dam and its now seasonal lake are located along the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley on Tujunga Wash. Tujunga Wash begins between the San Gabriel Mountains and Verdugo Mountains. The dam is 1 mile (1.6 km) downstream from the confluence of the Big Tujunga Creek and Little Tujunga Creek-Wash. The dam contains a 1,300-acre reservoir, which is sometimes referred to as Hansen Lake.[4] The spillway structure, outlet works and channel are located near the center of the Dam's rock embankment. The embankment itself follows a slight curve that creates a natural barrier by connecting the hills at either end of the dam.[5] It is southeast of the city of San Fernando.


The Los Angeles Flood of 1938, which included significant flooding along the Tujunga Wash and at its confluence with the Los Angeles River, increased support to dam and channelize the city's creeks and rivers. In 1939, due to repeated flooding and the damage caused by them in the eastern portions of the San Fernando Valley, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the project. The Corps worked in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (LACFCD). They had already considered planning to implement flood risk management within the area since 1915 after a previous series of floods.[5] In 1939 the Corps, by use of eminent domain, seized the horse ranch of Homer and Marie Hansen to build the dam.[1] After a year of construction and over $11 million in initial costs, the dam and its corresponding facilities were finished.[5] The 2-mile (3.2 km) long, 97-foot (30 m) high dam was built to control the runoff and floodwaters.[6] During storms and flooding, the dam is intended to catch water within the reservoir. Provisions in the dam's standards of operations promote water conservation efforts coordinated with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. The provisions allow the dam to discharge water onto spreading grounds located south of the dam, which then percolates into groundwater recharge basins and is stored as part of the city's water supply.[5]

Accumulation of debris from previous floods reduced the amount of storage capacity of the reservoir. As a result, in 1981, the Corps proposed raising the height of the dam rather than starting the expensive process of removing the build up of silt, sand, gravel and other debris.[7] The proposal did not pass, and responsibility was redirected back to the Corps providing maintenance of the dam. The Corps must occasionally excavate sediment and vegetative debris to clear clogged outlet works and maintain full capacity of the dam.[5] In the mid-1940s, the Hansen Dam Basin's recreational possibilities were considered as it attracted thousands of visitors every year. Development of recreational facilities began in 1952 with the creation of Holiday Lake, which was used by swimmers, boaters, and anglers. By 1991, the lake had become completely filled with sediment and was abandoned.[5]

Hansen Dam Recreation Area

The Hansen Dam Recreation Center and Park are located here, with extensive day use facilities operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Most facilities are accessed from Highways 5 and/or 210.[3]

The Orcas-Gabreieleno Equestrian Center and Hansen Dam Aquatic Center are located behind the dam here, and Hansen Dam Golf Course in front.[8][9][10]

Recreation Center and Park features a moderate size lake which is filled with circulated drinking water and offers fishing and public boating. The lake is open year-round, including holidays, but may be closed during times of severe weather or for planned events. Also at the site is located a smaller swim lake which features water that is filtered and chlorinated and has a capacity of 2,800 swimmers.[11]

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks provides lifeguards who service to the three lakes within the flood control basin.[12]

The recreation center and park areas also have: picnic tables and barbecue pits, children's play areas; and baseball diamonds and soccer fields.[3]

The park features equestrian and walking trails, that link to those exploring the nearby Angeles National Forest, and a walking pathway along the dam's top. The habitats include montane chaparral and woodlands and riparian in the rustic areas. The basin is a resource of large open space for the Los Angeles region. A large portion of the area remains undeveloped in an effort to conserve natural habitats and maintain the diverse animal and plant species.[13]

The Hansen Dam Park natural area's ecology is being restored, with invasive plants removal and native plant reintroduction.[14] The proposed National Park Service Rim of the Valley Corridor and trails would include Hansen Dam Park as a significant hub with trailheads.[15][16]

The Discovery Cube Los Angeles is located at the northwest corner of the recreation area on the intersection of Osborne St. and Foothill Blvd. It was built in November 2014 and was intended to serve as an extension campus of the Discovery Cube Orange County. Its purpose is to engage young minds and stimulate innovation and creativity through hands-on exhibits. The science-based programs and activities are part of the nonprofit Discovery Science Foundation's effort to provide an accessible, interactive learning space that enhances participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), healthy living and environmental awareness. It has a mix of both traveling and permanent exhibits, which includes featuring work done by the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation for waste reduction and resource conservation. It also has sponsored areas by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that educate visitors about sustainability, water conservation and preserving natural resources.[17]

Homeless people

Hansen dam has drawn a growing population of homeless people. These people settle within the park or near the Tujunga Wash in obscure areas. There have been efforts to clean both these areas. Officials spent over $300,000 in September 2015 to clean up these areas, but the transients continuously return.[18] A growing California housing shortage has contributed to the growing homeless population that reside in the park. As of 2015 the homeless population in Los Angeles grew 12% since 2013.[18] It is estimated that there are 134,000 homeless individuals in California. Increasing rent prices in California have contributed to the homeless epidemic in public parks. It is estimated that 29% of California residents spend more than half their income on rent.[19]

Recreational Assets

  • Discovery Cube Los Angeles
  • Aquatic Center
  • Playground
  • Skate Park
  • Picnic Area
  • Sports Center
  • Equestrian Center
  • Bike Trail[13]

See also


  1. Pitarre, Alyson. "Where country living sidles up to the city." Los Angeles Times. June 12, 2005. 1. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  2. "Dam Safety Program". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  3. laparks: Hansen Dam recreation center . accessed 1.2.2012
  4. Barraclough, Laura (2011). Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege. University of Georgia Press. pp. 238–239.
  5. "Hansen Dam Master Plan" (PDF). US Army Corps of Engineers. May 1, 2018.
  6. Barker, Mayerene. "Hansen Dam's Comeback Moves Slowly Recreation: Tons of silt have been hauled off, but restoration of the once-popular lake remains years away." Los Angeles Times. July 20, 1990. Metro Part B Metro Desk. Page 1. Retrieved on March 19, 2010.
  7. Willman, Martha (January 3, 1982). "City Seeking Solution to Hansen Dam Debris". Los Angeles Times.
  8. equestrian center . accessed 1.2.2012
  9. aquatic center . accessed 1.2.2012
  10. golf course . accessed 1.2.2012
  11. "Hansen Dam Aquatic Center" (PDF). City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Summer 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  12. Shalby, Colleen (May 14, 2019). "More than 20 lifeguards develop 'swimmer's itch' after swim exam in man-made lake". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  13. "Hansen Dam Park" (PDF). 30 May 2018.
  14. natural area restoration Archived 2004-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
  15. National Park Service: Rim of the Valley Corridor Study . accessed 1.2.2012
  16. Kamal, Sameea (March 4, 2015). "Three lawmakers urge Park Service action on Rim of the Valley study". Los Angeles Times.
  17. "Discovery Cube Los Angeles Debuts in the San Fernando Valley". Business Wire. 13 November 2014.
  18. Banks, Sandy (Nov 17, 2015). "Compassion, confusion and resentment in a city where the homeless are everywhere". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  19. Hill, Adriene. "How California's Housing Crisis Turned into a Homeless Crisis". LAist. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.