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 Johnstown Flood Victims Gravesite

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Johnstown Flood Victims Gravesite

  • Birth unknown
  • Death 31 May 1889 Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Burial Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Memorial ID 3679

Flood Victims. Considered the worst civil disaster in the United States, the ten minutes of destruction cost the lives of 2,209. In 1840, construction began in a valley near the town of South Fork. Construction was completed in 1852. The railroad purchased the South Fork Dam in 1857. The dam suffered a major break in 1862, when a portion of the stone culvert running under the dam collapsed. For the next thirteen years the dam stood abandoned. In 1875 the Pennsylvania Railroad sold the damaged, abandoned dam and 500 acres of surrounding property. In 1879 the property was sold again and fifty men were hired to do reconstruction on the dam. For the next eight years people from near and far would drive across the dam and stopped to be impressed by the scenic beauty. A storm moving east out of Nebraska would be the start of the disaster about to befall the town. It was estimated that 6 to 10 inches of rain had fallen in a 24 hour period. On the morning of May 31, the situation at the dam was serious. The lake had risen over 2 feet during the night and by early morning was two and a half feet from the top of the dam. Because of the heavy run-off the screens at the spillway became clogged with debris. Every minute 4000 cubic feet of water was building up in the lake. Caretakers attempted to remove the tons of debris that were clogging the screens. Within 2 hours the water in the lake was still rising an inch every ten minutes. By 10 a.m. the water was less than a foot from the top of the dam. A warning was sent to be telegrammed to the residents, but it was never sent out, over 20 million tons of water, emptied in 45 minutes. People in the valley below were drowned without warning. Fear of an epidemic disease caused the dead to be hastily buried. Five months after the disaster, in the hope that some of the hastily buried victims might be recognized, all were dug up and reburied in a 20,000-square-foot plot of the city's new Grandview Cemetery. A section called "Unknown Plot" that contained 777 of the flood victims who could not be identified. The State Flood Commission purchased the plot for burying the unknowns and bought markers for each grave and a monument that cost $6,500. It was dedicated on May 31, 1892, exactly three years after the flood. There is a history museum in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, it is housed in the Cambria public Library Building, within this museum you will find artifacts of the flood, a list of the victims, the events of the flood through exhibits, media and a viewing of a documentary every hour about the flood.

Bio by: Memorial Flower

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 17 Oct 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3679
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Johnstown Flood Victims Gravesite (unknown–31 May 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3679, citing Grandview Cemetery, Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .