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The Johnstown flood - Main Street, looking east
The Johnstown flood - Main Street, looking east

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Johnstown Flood Disaster
May 31, 1889

Floods were nothing new for the citizens of Johnstown. An immigrant from Switzerland named Joseph Johns settled Johnstown where the Conemaugh River forms from the Stonycreek River and the Little Conemaugh River. Johnstown is located in a river valley, which is low and floods easily. However, the people of Johnstown had never seen a flood like this one.

When the South Fork Dam ripped open upstream, a massive wave tore through Johnstown. The water destroyed everything in its path. It caused approximately $17 million in damage and killed more than 2,200 people. Houses, factories, and bridges were left in pieces. The water tore down telegraph lines and destroyed railroad service.

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