by Andrew Lang, JAHA curator
Today is Earth Day, a day that encourages us to think about the environment and our relationship to it, and the ways that we can help to preserve and protect the natural world. And today, I find myself thinking about Johnstown and its environment. </
Historically, Johnstown has had a complex relationship with the landscape. As people have exerted their influence on the land, it has both provided the resources to promote the rise and growth of the city, and unleashed forces that have brought the city to its knees, such as the 1889 Flood. It retains its beauty, though it bears the scars of an industrial economy that drove clear cutting of forests, mining of the hills, and the consequences of pollution. More than most places, Johnstown understands this dual nature of the natural world.
Yet one cannot help but be struck by this landscape. It is impossibly unique; the stage within which so much of Johnstown’s history has played out. With its sharp, rising ridges and hills, covered in an intense canopy of trees, and possessed of that rich bevy of mineral resources. The twisting, meandering valley that houses countless streams and these two great rivers. Like Johnstown itself, the land possesses remarkable variation.
And it is great to see how much people want to experience and celebrate this landscape. Watching the rise of efforts to promote hiking and biking trails, river rides, and work to preserve environment areas is key to harness the landscape as part of Johnstown’s continued growth. The publicity of the Ghost Town Trail and Coal Tubin’ is great to see, and I hope these efforts continue. Like local history and culture, this landscape is part of what makes Johnstown an interesting place to visit, and a more interesting place to live.
Because while I can prattle on here, you need to see it to understand it best. And when this coronavirus has passed and we are out of our quarantine, I hope one of the first things you do will be to go out and explore the landscape. Here’s to our local environment, and here is to protecting it and preserving it for everyone.