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Conemaugh Dam Gives Way 1889 MQ
Description: I put together this short clip to show the path of the flood in 1889. I only wonder, are we any safer today if a dam were to break, would we have enough time to get out of harms way. The question everyon is asking, is Johnstown flood free.

Date Taken: 9/7/2007
Views: 40260
City: Johnstown
State: pennsylvania
Zipcode:
Country: United States
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Classic Comments
Very well done, brings it all home. As you know I was just down there last weekend and it`s hard to understand the enormity of the disaster without visiting there, but this helps. -- weathermatrix
R Factor ... Thanks for putting together this video. You have to be a fast reader but I know why you had to crunch everything. I love the party music.... -- jodimiller
Hi I am part of Penns Woods Project. PWP is a club for any child who wants to join. I am in homeschcooling, and I want you to know that we thank you for sharing your picure with us. Just so you know your picture is being used educational needs. Children across the globe will be viewing yuor pictures. And we also encourage everyone to rate the pictures they view. This is one great picture.Thanks so much. -- jodimiller
See my blog entry for the meteorological details, rainfall, storm setup, etc. of this storm: http://tinyurl.com/yvsnwr -- weathermatrix
Again thanks it was a big help last week.. -- jodimiller
The Pennsylvania Canal Company maintained most of its waterways until 1901. However, after the floods of 1889, use of the old Juniata Division became impracticable except for a few miles above Duncans Island and, after the flood of 1894 hopelessly damaged the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal cargoes could not longer be boated onwards from the Easter Division to Atlantic ports. The Union Canal had closed ten years earlier in 1884.These boats pursued their leisurely way from lock to lock -- johnstownwildfire
Johnstown Flood of 1889 There was no larger news story in the latter nineteenth century after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The story of the Johnstown Flood has everything to interest the modern mind: a wealthy resort, an intense storm, an unfortunate failure of a dam, the destruction of a working class city, and an inspiring relief effort. -- johnstownwildfire
The Johnstown Flood disaster or Great Flood of 1889 as it became known locally occurred on May 31 1889. It was the result of the failure of the South Fork Dam situated 14 miles 23 km upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, made worse by several days of extremely heavy rainfall. The dams failure unleashed a torrent of 20 million tons of water 18.1 million cubic meters 4.8 billion gallons. The flood killed over 2,200 people and produced US17 million of damage. -- johnstownwildfire
It was the first major disaster relief effort handled by the new American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton. Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries.The high, steep hills of the narrow Conemaugh Valley and the Allegheny Mountains range to the east kept development close to the riverfront areas, and subjected the valley to large amounts of rain and snowfall. -- johnstownwildfire
The area surrounding the town of Johnstown was prone to flooding due to its position at the confluence of the Stony Creek and Little Conemaugh River, forming the Conemaugh River, and to the artificial narrowing of the riverbed for the purposes of development.High in the mountains, near the small town of South Fork, the South Fork Dam was originally built between 1838 and 1853 by the State of Pennsylvania as part of the canal system to be used as a reservoir for the canal basin in Johnstown. It was abandoned by the state, sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad, and sold again to private interests. -- johnstownwildfire
The area surrounding the town of Johnstown was prone to flooding due to its position at the confluence of the Stony Creek and Little Conemaugh River, forming the Conemaugh River, and to the artificial narrowing of the riverbed for the purposes of development.High in the mountains, near the small town of South Fork, the South Fork Dam was originally built between 1838 and 1853 by the State of Pennsylvania as part of the canal system to be used as a reservoir for the canal basin in Johnstown. It was abandoned by the state, sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad, and sold again to private interests. -- johnstownwildfire
Speculators had purchased the abandoned reservoir, modified it, and converted it into a private resort lake for the wealthy of Pittsburgh. The changes included lowering the dam to make its top wide enough to hold a road, putting a fish screen in the spillway that also trapped debris, and raising the lake level. These alterations are thought to have increased the vulnerability of the dam. -- johnstownwildfire
They built cottages and a clubhouse to create the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, an exclusive and secretive mountain retreat. Members included over 50 wealthy Pittsburgh steel, coal, and railroad industrialists, among them Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick, Philander Knox, and Robert Pitcairn. -- johnstownwildfire
Lake Conemaugh at the clubs site was 450 feet 137 m in elevation above Johnstown. The lake was about two miles 3 km long, approximately one mile 1.6 km wide, and 60 feet 18 m deep near the dam. The lake had a perimeter of 7 miles 11 km to hold 20 million tons of water. When the water was at its highest point in the spring, the lake covered over 400 acres 1.6 km. -- johnstownwildfire
The dam was 72 feet high and 931 feet long. Between 1881 when the club was opened, and 1889, the dam frequently sprung leaks and was patched, mostly with mud and straw. Additionally a previous owner removed and sold for scrap the 3 cast iron discharge pipes that previously allowed a controlled release of water. There had been some speculation as to the dams integrity, and concerns had been raised by the head of the Cambria Iron Works downstream in Johnstown. -- johnstownwildfire
On May 28, 1889, a storm formed over Nebraska and Kansas, moving east. When the storm struck the Johnstown-South Fork area two days later it was the worst downpour that had ever been recorded in that section of the country. The U.S. Army Signal Corps estimated that 6 to 10 inches 150 to 250 mm of rain fell in 24 hours over the entire section. During the night small creeks became roaring torrents, ripping out trees and debris. Telegraph lines were downed and rail lines were washed out. -- johnstownwildfire
During the day, the situation worsened as water rose in the streets of Johnstown. Then, in the middle of the afternoon of May 31st, the South Fork Dam, 14 miles upstream, burst, allowing the 20 million tons of Lake Conemaugh to cascade down the Little Conemaugh River. On its way downstream towards Johnstown, the crest picked up debris, such as trees, houses, and animals. -- johnstownwildfire
Occasionally this debris formed a temporary dam at narrow parts of the canyon, which caused water to build up behind this dam before breaking through. Because of this, the force of the surge would gain strength periodically, resulting in a stronger force hitting Johnstown than otherwise would be expected. Just before hitting the main part of the city, the flood surge hit the Cambria Iron Works, taking with it railroad cars and barbed wire. -- johnstownwildfire
The inhabitants of the town of Johnstown were caught by surprise as the wall of water and debris bore down on the village, traveling at 40 miles per hour and reaching a height of 60 feet in places. Some, realizing the danger, tried to escape, but most people were hit by the surging floodwater. Many people were crushed by pieces of debris, and others became caught in barbed wire from the wire factory upstream. -- johnstownwildfire
At Johnstown, the Stone Bridge, which was a substantial arched structure, carried the Pennsylvania Railroad across the Conemaugh River. The debris that was carried by the flood formed a temporary dam, stopping further progress of the water. The flood surge bounced upstream along the Stoney Creek river. Eventually, gravity caused the surge to return to the dam, causing a second wave to hit the city, but from a different direction. -- johnstownwildfire
Some people who had been washed downstream became trapped in an inferno as debris that had piled up against the Stone Bridge caught fire, killing 80 people. The fire at the Stone Bridge burned for three days. Afterwards, the pile of debris there covered 30 acres As of 2007, the Stone Bridge is still standing, and is often portrayed as one of the images of the flood -- johnstownwildfire
This is a wonderful charming and very educational video. We love watching your videos. -- Flood City Weather Team
The state park service and johnstown history people want us to blame the dam from breaking on the weather only. I think if the dam was fixed the right way and the pipes were in place the dam would of been fine. -- womansfury
Thanks it really had my attention. A wall of water almost a 100 feet high, how does one escape such a wave -- tweety
it was amazing seeing that large house with the HUGE tree sticking out of it.... reminds me of someting a tornado would do here in tornado alley -- ozzy1983
 
Uploaded on 9/7/2007
by johnstownwildfire
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