National Park Service and JAHA to hold events to commemorate the 135th anniversary of the Johnstown flood

National Park Service and JAHA to hold events to commemorate the 135th anniversary of the Johnstown flood

Posted: May 19, 2024 2:21 pm

The National Park Service and Johnstown Area Heritage Association will host a series of events on May 31 to commemorate the 135th anniversary of the 1889 Johnstown Flood and honor the victims of the catastrophe.

“Throughout the year, but especially on May 31, we pause to pay respect to the flood victims of this horrible tragedy,” said Johnstown Flood National Memorial Superintendent Stephen M. Clark. “The events presented by the National Park Service and Johnstown Area Heritage Association will continue the long tradition of the community coming together in remembrance of the 1889 Flood and the lives lost.”

“We are proud to once again be partnering with the National Park Service on events related to the flood anniversary,” said Patty Carnevali, President and CEO of JAHA. “It’s a multifaceted story, and there’s always something new to learn.”

National Park Service (NPS) Commemorative events: May 31

The Johnstown Flood National Memorial Visitor Center is free of charge and open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 31. No reservations are required on May 31.

  • At 4:07 p.m. park rangers will lay commemorative wreaths on the remains of the dam at the time the floodwaters reached Johnstown. The wreath laying will be broadcast live on the park’s Facebook page.
  • Beginning at 5 p.m., names of the victims will be read outside near the Visitor Center entrance.
  • Children’s activities are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the park picnic area, located on Picnic Area Road.
  • From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. luminaries will be lit to honor the 2,209 victims of the flood. Park grounds remain open until the conclusion of the luminaries.
  • Parking is available at the Visitor Center and South Abutment. A shuttle runs between the Visitor Center and the North Abutment through the duration of the luminaries.

Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) events

Stone Bridge lighting: May 31

The Stone Bridge in Johnstown, which played a tragic role in the events of the 1889 flood, will be lighted in colors and patterns that evoke the water and fire of that terrible night. Lighting time is 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Free admission to the Johnstown Flood Museum: May 31 only

Interpreted Tour of the 1889 Flood: June 1

On Saturday, June 1, JAHA is partnering with the NPS to present an Interpreted Tour of the 1889 Flood. The bus tour departs from Johnstown Flood National Memorial and traces the flood path. Costumed interpreters playing the roles of pivotal figures in the flood story, including Victor Heiser, Horace Rose, and Clara Barton, will tell the story of the flood as they experienced it.

Participants should arrive at the Visitor Center no later than noon. After an orientation and the park film Black Friday, guests will board the bus with Park Rangers Doug Bosley and Gregory Zaborowski. Stops include Central Park and Grandview Cemetery before returning to the memorial around 4 p.m. Participants will receive a commemorative booklet.

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Desolation Reigns – The National Guard of PA Responds to Johnstown: June 1, 2024

The National Guard History Project is a one-day special exhibition on the third floor of the Johnstown Flood Museum. The exhibition tells the story of the National Guard’s involvement in flood relief through artifacts and displays. Free to JAHA members or with museum admission, this exhibition is available on Saturday, June 1 during regular museum hours of 10:00 am-5:00 pm.