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Johnstown Flood Memorial
I do enjoy getting the feel of local areas we visit. No visit to this area would be complete without checking out the "Johnstown Flood"
So we took a ride over to
In 1889 Johnsotwn was a steel company town of 30,000 of mostly German and Welsh families. Fourteen miles up the Little Conemaugh the two-mile Lake Conemaugh was held on the side of a mountain by the old South Fork Dam. The dam was poorly maintained and there was talk the dam might not hold. Few paid attention to the warnings.
Two worn abutments are all that remain of what was one of the largest earthen dams in the world in 1889. The old lake bed behind the dam gives little indication of the awesome power released on the day the dam broke causing the deadliest inland flood in the nation's history.
On the afternoon of May 31, 1889 and after a night of heavy rain the South Fork Dam broke sending 20 millions tons of water crashing down the narrow valley. It was over in 10 minutes. More than 2,200 were dead with thousands more injured. This was more than a natural disaster, much of it was due to greed and self-interest.
The South Fork Fishing and Hunting club was an exclusive retreat for the Pittsburgh rich such as Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon. The members enjoyed hunting, sailing and two excursion steamers that plied the lake. However, the lack of adequate maintenance on the dam weakened it.
Property damage was $17 million. the cleanup operation took years with bodies still being found months and years after the flood. The city regained its population and rebuilt its manufacturing centers but it was years before Johnstown fully recovered.
Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum
Our next little trip took us to the town of Ligonier to visit the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum. The RR served the people and coal industry of Western Pennsylvania from the late 1800's until it's last trip in 1952.
The museum is housed in the old Ligonier depot.
Our guide who was gracious in answering questions and telling the history of the railroad.
The orginial ticket holder box:
A bit of their collection:
1905 Bobber Caboose
As we travel the back roads of southwestern Pennsylvania we are so often on roads such as this.
Narrow, winding and oh so beautiful.
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