Education: Johnstown Flood Museum

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary Source: Photo Gallery

Flood Damage and Destruction

Color photo of antique camera on tripod

Photographers Tell the Story

After the Flood, photographers flocked to Johnstown. It was the biggest story since the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. And it was definitely a story that had to be seen to be believed!

Photography in 1889 required much different equipment than it does today. Negatives (film) were glass, which was heavy and easily broken. Cameras also weighed a lot and had be used on tripods to keep them still while the picture was being taken. Imagine hauling all this equipment over mud, pools of water, and giant piles of wreckage left by the Flood!

The pictures these adventurous photographers recorded are truly amazing! Because of them, thousands of photographs of the effects of the Flood have survived to help us imagine the horrible devastation the Flood caused.

Since photographs were very expensive to print in newspapers and books, artists sometimes made engravings of the photographs for newspapers and magazines. Some photographers took stereoviews with special cameras with two lenses. Customers bought the stereoviews in collections that they viewed with a gadget called a stereopticon.

Click on the images below to view a larger image. To help you see as much as possible from these photographs, use the tool "Reading a Photograph."

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