Education: Johnstown Flood Museum

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary source: Survivor stories

Survivors describe the Flood

Gertrude Quinn

I can never forget what I saw! It was like the Day of Judgment I have since seen pictured in books. Pandemonium had broken loose, screams, cries, and people were running: their white faces like death masks; parents dragging children, whose heads bobbed up and down in water; a boat filled to capacity with eager anxious passengers; household pets of all descriptions dangling from loving arms,' a wagon loaded to the breaking point lost a wheel and the despairing mortals riding therein where dumped down in a heap in the filthy water. They scrambled to their feet in less time that it takes to tell it, as the onrushing mob moved rapidly forward bent on self-protection at any cost.

Animals and humans with eyes bulging out of their heads struggled to keep their feet against the horde and the weight of the water. They were all compressed into a solid mass that fairly wedged its way up the street, all straining every nerve and muscle to reach the hill, as the grim reaper stalked in the rear, and in the distance the mist and unmistakable rumblings telling in a new language what had happened.

Bells were ringing, the whistles in the mills were sounding a last warning and intermingled with these were the shrill sounds from steam engines as throttles were opened for the last time; and now a moving mass black with houses, trees, boulders, longs and rafters coming down like an avalanche.

From Gertrude Quinn Slattery's book Johnstown Flood.

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