Monday, February 8, 2010

02-07-2010 Matilija Dam

This week we decided it would be best to take it easy, having just recovered from a bug that's been going around. That and the rain. My friend Don had been up to Matilija Dam after the last batch of rain, and was impressed by the amount of water flowing, so we thought we drive up to Ojai and take a look at it too.

The flood plain upcreek from the Dam is named Deserpa Flat. I can't confirm it, but I'm going to guess it was named after some settlers from the east named DeSerpa. It looks like at least some of the family still lives in Ojai.

The Dam itself was built in 1947. It was condemed just seventeen years later. Here's a timeline

Here's an old postcard dipicting the area before the dam was erected.

Hopefully someday we'll all be able to sit on Overhang rock again.

Matilija Dam Facts

Location: 15.6 miles from the ocean
Owner: Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD)
Date Constructed: 1947
Purpose: Water supply and flood control
Preconstruction estimated cost: $682,000
Actual total dam cost: ~$4 million
Constructed height: 198 feet (1,125 elevation)
Current height: 168 feet (1,095 elevation) (notched in 1965, 1977)
Width: 620 feet
Thickness: 8 feet at crest, 35 feet at base
Reservoir Capacity: Design: 7,018 acre feet
Reservoir Capacity: After notching: 3,800 acre feet (excluding sedimentation losses)
Reservoir Capacity: Current: Less than 500 acre feet (combined notching & sedimentation losses)
Reservoir Capacity: Projected: Zero capacity by 2020
Original Reservoir Area: 126.8 acres
Drainage area above dam site: 55 square miles
Original Spillway Capacity: 60,000 cubic feet per second at water elevation 1,137 feet

The walk is short, just a few minutes from the road and you're there. There are some old buildings on the spill side of the dam you can check out. There is also a road, which I assume leads down to the Matilija Hot Springs.

Here's an old picture of the Dam for reference. I don't know the date it was taken, sorry.


  1. I grew up at Matilija and Casitas dams. It is great to see pics of them after being gone for so many yrs.

    We used to walk across the "cat walk" at the top of Matilija so my dad could check things on the other side of it. When the dam would spill the house would shake. It was a shame when the house burned down.

    It was a blessed childhood to be able to grow up at these two dams.

  2. Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting. I'd be interested in any stories you would like to share about the dam. If you would like to elaborate on the house you mention please feel free. Take care.