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Friday, October 21, 2011

Floods and trains

Rockwood, PA

First - welcome to our new reader  from wheresweaver blog.   Thanks for stopping by.

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.

9 comments:

where's weaver said...

Thanks for the great tour and all the information. We have never been in that area. Really interesting.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Some great history, thanks!

Laurie and George said...

I always thought that the Johnstown Flood area was very interesting.

Happytrails said...

Very interesting!! Thanks for the info...will have to put this on the "to see" list.

JOJO said...

Thank You for the pictures and the tour. I had been to PA as a young child and I still can remember how beautiful it was in the fall.

Karol said...

Thanks for the information on Johnstown. I thought a river had flooded it. But not because of the dam. It is a beautiful area.

Rick and Paulette said...

Thanks for the history and tour of Johnstown. The railroad museum was interesting too as I really enjoy seeing anything to do with old trains.

MargieAnne said...

Hi Phyllis and Len. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving encouraging comments. Very much appreciated.

As I read your Blog.... catching up after some weeks of not feeling up to much, I think how wonderful it would be to travel with blogging friends from time to time and enjoy places with people who grew up with your history. We had so much fun on our trips but next time... God willing there will be, we want to have more contact with North Americans. We are feeling our age these days so not so sure we will ever make it again. Thank goodness for the memories we have.

Blessings.

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Whew..Sam apparently didnt see your post about
the trains...very interesting about Johnstown, knew nothing of that. 17 million then my heavens think how much that would be today.
Donna W.