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"From Scholarship to Souvenirs: Telling the Story of the Johnstown Flood"
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A Walking Tour of Downtown Johnstown
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Flood History
History of the Johnstown Flood
1936 & 1977 Floods
Facts About the Johnstown Flood
The Club & the Dam
The Flood and the American Red Cross
The Relief Effort
Survivor Stories
Remembering the Johnstown Flood

On May 31, 1889, a neglected dam and a phenomenal storm led to a catastrophe in which 2,209 people died. It's a story of great tragedy, but also of triumphant recovery. Visit the Johnstown Flood Museum, which is operated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, to find out more about this shocking episode in American history.

Facts About the Johnstown Flood

The scale of the Johnstown flood of 1889 is hard to imagine. Summarizing the flood's impact in statistics and facts is a quick way to convey the enormity of the event. Here is a list of some of the most descriptive facts about the Johnstown flood.

    • 2,209 people died. (Click here for a PDF list of flood victims, their addresses, ages and burial places)

    • 99 entire families died, including 396 children

    • 124 women and 198 men were left widowed. (Click here for survivor stories)

    • More than 750 victims were never identified and rest in the Plot of the Unknown in Grandview Cemetery

    • Bodies were found as far away as Cincinnati, and as late as 1911

    • 1,600 homes were destroyed

    • $17 million in property damage was done

    • Four square miles of downtown Johnstown were completely destroyed

    • The pile of debris at the stone bridge covered 30 acres

    • The distance between the dam that failed and Johnstown was 14 miles. (Click here for a map of the area, published shortly after the flood).

    • The dam was owned by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, an exclusive club that counted Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick among its members. (Click here for more information about the club; a list of club members is also available there)

    • The dam contained 20 million tons of water before it gave way, about the same amount of water as goes over Niagara Falls in 36 minutes. (Click here for more information about the dam)

    • Flood lines were found as high as 89 feet above river level

    • The great wave measured 35-40 feet high and hit Johnstown at 40 miles per hour

    • The force of the flood swept several locomotives weighing 170,000 pounds as far as 4,800 feet

    • $3,742,818.78 was collected for the Johnstown relief effort from within the U.S. and 18 foreign countries

    • The American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton and organized in 1881, arrived in Johnstown on June 5, 1889 - it was the first major peacetime disaster relief effort for the Red Cross. (Click here for more on the Red Cross in Johnstown).

    • Johnstown has suffered additional significant floods in its history, including in 1936 and 1977. (Click here for more information on the 1936 and 1977 floods)
Further reading on this site



Downloadable resources on this site