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Guide to the Otay Flood Relief Expedition Records MS 264
MS 264  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Title: Otay Flood Relief Expedition Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 264
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.25 Linear feet (1 box)
    Date (inclusive): 1916-1988
    Abstract: This collection consists of records pertaining to a flood relief expedition led by US Navy Lt. Willis W. Bradley Jr. after the 1916 Lower Otay Dam failure.
    creator: United States. Navy.


    Items in the collection are arranged by subject.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Preferred Citation

    Otay Flood Relief Expedition Records, MS 264, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Samantha Mills on April 4, 2012.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    In January 1916, severe storms hit San Diego, California, lasting several days. The Lower Otay Dam lacked an adequate spillway for excessive overfilling, and on January 27, the dam collapsed. Billions of gallons of water swept through Otay Valley, leaving at least 20 dead and much of the rest of the population homeless.
    Admiral William F. Fullam, commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, immediately sent in a flood relief expedition under Lt. Willis W. Bradley, Jr., then commanding officer of the USS Lawrence. This party consisted of eight officers and 85 enlisted men from the Navy and Marine Corps. For two weeks they provided all police and medical attention for the flooded district, which included Otay, Palm City, Nestor, San Ysidro, and the Tijuana border area. They initially distributed food and clothing to about 500 people, decreasing to about 200 people at the end, at which point the operation was turned over to local authorities.
    Lt. Willis W. Bradley, Jr. was born June 28, 1884 in Ransomville, New York. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1906 and served until his retirement in 1946. During that time he served in World War I and World War II, and acted as Governor of Guam from 1929-1931. In 1946 he was elected to Congress as a representative of L.A. County districts 69, 70, and 71. He died August 7, 1954.

    Scope and Content

    This collection consists of records pertaining to a flood relief expedition led by US Navy Lt. Willis W. Bradley Jr. after the 1916 Lower Otay Dam failure. Correspondence includes orders establishing the expedition, daily reports made throughout the expedition, and orders withdrawing the Navy’s forces. Other records include itemized bills for supplies, correspondence surrounding the investigation of several civilian complaints, and letters of commendation. Additionally, there are biographical excerpts about Lt. Bradley as well as a photograph of him.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 890722.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bradley (Ship).
    Bradley, Willis W.
    Fullam, William F. (William Freeland), 1855-1926
    Lawrence (Ship).
    Milwaukee (Ship).
    Oregon (Battleship).
    Reserve Torpedo Division.
    South Dakota (Ship).
    Dam failures
    Flood damage
    Floods -- California
    Lower Otay Lake (Calif.)
    Military orders
    Nestor (Calif.)
    Otay Mesa (San Diego, Calif.)
    Palm City (Calif.)
    San Diego (Calif.)
    San Ysidro (San Diego, Calif.)
    Tijuana (Baja California, Mexico)