Education: Johnstown Flood Museum

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary source: Survivor stories

Survivors describe the Flood

Mr. William F. Lewis

Mr. William F. Lewis, who was in charge of the Cambria rolling-shop, was on the Pennsylvania Railroad track opposite Rosensteel’s tannery twenty-five minutes before the torrent came upon us. He then saw Mr. Haselbein and Miss Carrie Williams on a little knoll near the bridge that crosses the Conemaugh, with the spray of the swollen stream splashing around them. He waved his handkerchief at them, and Miss Carrie held up a piece of cheese and cracker in her hand, indicating that that was all the dinner they were having.

In about twenty-five minutes after, he (Mr. Lewis) was down at the Pennsylvania Railroad depot and saw the avalanche of water coming on the town. He saw the steeple of the German Lutheran church fall, then Mr. Kilgore’s residence, and after that the Assistance engine-house. He noticed that the houses on Iron Street rose bodily and began o twist and grind one another to pieces; and after that everything changed as in a kaleidoscope, and he next found himself asking a man who stood by if it was really so that the town was swept away. The next morning the body of Miss Williams was found at the head of Main Street. He said that when the torrent came, men and women on Prospect Hill wrung their hands, tore their hair, and threw themselves upon the ground in agony.

Quoted in Rev. Dr. David Beale's book Through the Johnstown Flood, p.340.

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