The Johnstown Flood
On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam upstream of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, failed, unleashing a torrent of water that killed more than two thousand people and destroyed the city. Herman Dieck's Johnstown Flood, published shortly after the event, offers sensational stories of death, escape, sacrifice, and survival along with demographic reports and an investigation of several myths-such as the legend of a Paul Revere-like messenger on horseback racing down the valley, warning of the impending flood.
The flooding of late May and early June 1889 was not limited to the Johnstown area. Dieck includes reports of rains that inundated many river towns of the mid-Atlantic region. His accounts of other catastrophic floods place the Pennsylvania disaster in historical perspective.
The book also presents the tragic story of the Pennsylvania Children's Aid Society. The group's headquarters had been transferred from Philadelphia to Johnstown just before the flood; only two officers survived. Despite this devastation, reinforcements from the Philadelphia branch office were able to establish a new, greatly needed orphanage in what proved to be one of the most effective relief efforts after the flood.
The Johnstown Flood gives a rich account of one of the worst disasters in America and the Keystone State.
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