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The Johnstown Flood by Willis Fletcher…

The Johnstown Flood (1889)

by Willis Fletcher Johnson

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One of the worst disasters in American history, the Johnstown Flood occurred on May 31, 1889. After severe amounts of rainfall, the South Fork Dam on the Little Conemaugh River broke apart sending a wall of water down the valley toward Johnstown 14 miles downstream. Some 20 million tons of water was forced downstream leaving devastation in it wake. The lives of 2,209 people were lost.

Johnstown was a growing industrial community, known for it’s steel mills and it’s workers were comprised of both Welsh and German immigrants. Ninety-nine entire families were wiped out by this flood, over 396 of the victims were children and over one-third of the victims (777) were never officially identified but were buried in a mass grave. One of the first outsiders to arrive was Clara Barton, nurse, founder and president of the American Red Cross. She and fifty volunteers undertook major disaster relief.

The Johnstown Flood by Willis Fletcher Johnson gives a good overview of this Pennsylvania disaster. This is a re-issue of the book that was originally published in the actual year of the flood which give a sense of immediacy about the information provided. He details the concern many people expressed about the strength of the dam, the rainy weather conditions that were causing the rivers to become swollen and how the lake that the dam held back was higher than usual. By midday of the 31st of May, another storm came through adding more water to the lake so that eventually water was running over the top of the dam. The dam, being built of mud and boulders became saturated, and still the rain poured down, until with a massive roar the wall gave way and although there had been some warnings that this could happen, most people ignored the warnings and carried on with their lives only to be swept up in this disaster.

The book describes the events in clear and concise language and has many photographs that show the tremendous damage that was caused It also tells of how Americans near and far helped with the relief for the thousands of people who were left with no food, shelter or clothing. Overall, I feel The Johnstown Flood by Willis Johnson was an excellent reference guide to this disastrous flood. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jul 11, 2016 |
another disaster book with a long and overdramatic title:

History of The Johnstown Flood. Including
All the Fearful Record; the Breaking of the South Fork Dam; The Sweeping out of the Conemaugh Valley; The Massing of the Wreck at the Railroad Bridge; Escapes, Rescues, Searches for Survivors and the Dead; Relief Organizations, Stupendous Charities, etc. etc.
With Full Accounts Also of the
Destruction on the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers, and the Bald Eagle Creek.
by Willis Fletcher Johnson. Illustrated.
  oregonobsessionz | Dec 30, 2007 |
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