Statistics about the great disaster
The scale of the Johnstown flood of 1889 is difficult to visualize. 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, including their addresses, ages and burial places.)
- 99 entire families died, including 396 children
- 124 women and 198 men were left widowed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Johnstown has suffered additional significant floods in its history, including in 1936 and 1977.
For more, visit the section about the 1889 flood in the Archives & Research section of this site.
More 1889 flood resources