“It never rains in Southern California,” sang the Gibraltan songwriter Albert Hammond, “But it pours, man it pours.” There’s a bit of truth in that. Although Los Angeles receives, on average, 15 inches of rainfall per year, the region regularly sees spurts of rain that falls in large quantities all at once.
By 1861, LA County is a community of a little over 4,000 residents. After two dry decades, farmers and ranchers are desperate for rain. On Christmas Eve, it begins to rain, and doesn’t stop for 45 days. Whole towns in Southern California are washed away. Thousands of cattle drown, fruit trees and vineyards are ripped from the ground. At least a quarter of all taxable land in the state is destroyed. LA County itself sees over 66 inches of rainfall. The basin is so inundated with water that large lakes form throughout, with little islands of higher ground peeking out.
In the wake of 1861s historic flood, LA County recovers and the cattle industry – the backbone of the region’s economy – flourishes again in lush, rain-soaked fields.