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Johnstown, PA and the great flood of 1889


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#1 DSF

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Posted 27 November 2002 - 03:10 PM

Johnstown, PA is a little industrial town in Cambria County.  I lived in this community for 4 years while I was in college.  Johnstown is known for it's steel production, the fact that the movie "Slapshot" was filmed there, and it's great floods.

The worst flood occured May 31st, 1889.  Some of the remanents of the flood are still in Johnstown.  There is a church in downtown, right on the square, that withstood the force of the wave and has a plaque on the wall marking the location of the water line.  I kid you not when I say that this if about 30 feet up the building..

I have visited the site where the dam was, seen what is left of the dam, and even watched the movie that was put together at the museum.  But nothing has creeped me out as much as the bridge.  Even before I knew the history of the bridge, it disturbed me, every time I drove by it, it sent chills down my spine.  I thought that it was just because it was an old bridge.  Here is a picture of the present day bridge.....
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It was this bridge that created a temporary dam that held the massive wall of water.  There was so much debris in the water from the 1600 homes that were destroyed along with the 280 businesses that were lost, it all became trapped in this bridge.  Many people who could have survived the watery ride, were trapped at this bridge.  The pool turned into a massive whirlpool and the debris caught fire, making a bad situation even worse.
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This bridge still stands today and is a very eerie place to visit.  If you ever get a chance, visit Johnstown, a very haunted place indeed.  2209 people died in the flood of 1889 and there is a lot of history about it.

Some other places to check out in Johnstown......
The cemetary where the 777 unidentified victims were buried....Grandview Cemetary.....here is an old picture of the cemetary
Posted Image  I have visited this place and it has a very depressing atmosphere.

You can read a thorough history on the flood, just do a search on the internet and tons of stuff will pop up.  

#2 SpectralSpy

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:05 AM

MsSpookypants,have you captured any anomolies or had any oddities occur while on the bridge?Sounds creepy indeed. :o
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.It is the source of all true art and science.He to whom this emotion is a stranger,who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe,is as good as dead-His eyes are closed."Albert Einstein

#3 gowie2hotty

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 11:30 PM

spookypants where are you from exactly?

we should definitely get together for some hunting sometime
YOu,,,GHI  IT COULD WORK
Come Check out Jason Gowin online at - http://www.jasongowin.com

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Posted 13 December 2002 - 06:32 PM

Hey, that could possibly work out! I live about 10 minutes north of Pittsburgh.

We actually have quite a few people from this area!  I'll PM you when I get back from Florida! (the system I am on now does not "cookie" and I can't log in)

#5 hurdingcats

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Posted 25 December 2002 - 06:18 PM

I have an antique book that is a firsthand account of the flood and it's aftermath. I'll hunt it up and do some reading on this.

#6 DSF

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Posted 26 December 2002 - 08:02 AM

That book probably has some great information in it!  Do you remember where you got the book from?

#7 hurdingcats

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Posted 26 December 2002 - 03:15 PM

I got it here in PA at a yard sale of all places for 5 cents. It's packed away with some other books , but as soon as I find it I'll read it again and pass on any info. I remember reading names of people who died and about the church. One account was of a young lady that was found buried in the mud. It also tells of what was going on in the town just before the flood hit. It's very informative and detailed. I'll dig it out tonight.

#8 hurdingcats

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Posted 26 December 2002 - 06:45 PM

I found it! The book is entitled:
History of the Johnstown Flood
by Willis Fletcher Johnson
illustrated
Written: 1889
Edgewood Publishing Co.
Here are just a few excerpts describing the aftermath of that devastating flood.
'The stream of human beings that was swept before the angry floods was something most pitiful to behold. Men, women and children were carried along frantically shrieking for help, but their cries availed them nothing. Rescue was impossible.'
'...The men, women, children, horses, and other domestic animals, houses, bridges, railroad cars, logs and tree branches were jammed together in a solid mass, which only dynomite can break up.'
' There are many corpses in the area of rubbish that drifted down and lodged against the stone bridge of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Out of this rubbish one thousand bodies have already been taken...The iron rods of a bridge were twisted into a perfect spiral six times around one of the girders. Just beneath it was a woman's trunk, broken up and half filled with sand, with silk dresses and a veil streaming out of it. From under the trunk men were lifting the body of it's owner, perhaps, so burned, so horribly mutilated, so torn limb from limb that even the workmen, who have seen so many of these frightful sights that they have begun to get so used to them, turned away sick at heart.'
 " I stood on the stone bridge at six o'clock and looking into the seething mass of ruin below me. At one place the blackened body of a babe was seen; in another, fourteen skulls could be counted. Futher along the bones became thicker and thicker, until at last at one place it seemed as if a concourse of people who had been at a ball or entertainment had been carried in a bunch and incinerated." New York World Coraspondent.
The book is 459 pages long. These are just some of the descriptions of the carnage wreaked by the flood. I can understand now why crossing that bridge would give one the heeby-geebies...it was estimated that 8000 people lost their lives that day.

#9 DSF

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 05:59 AM

That is some powerful reading, hurdingcats!  Hang on to that book, it is probably worth some $$$ if it is the original.

If you ever pass through central PA, make a stop in Johnstown and check it out.  There are so many "spots" in Johnstown.  I am hoping to get back there in the spring and check some things out, especially that freaky bridge!

#10 hurdingcats

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 12:10 PM

I have often wanted to visit Johnstown, but I live 5hrs. away. Perhaps when the weather breaks. I would enjoy getting together with others and doing an investigation, if that would be ok. I usually have to go it alone.
Just a side note - Many survivors went insane because of what they experienced, but the saddest fact of all was the report of gangs of men that arrived in town after and looted and robbed not only the wreckage, but the bodies. Going as far as cutting off fingers and ears to get their jewelry. Are there any urban legends attributed to the flood?

#11 DSF

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 02:22 PM

No urban legends about the flood that I remember hearing.  Most of the urban legends in Johnstown dealt with Indian burial grounds or coal miners (funny to think that Quecreek mine is only a few miles from here, as well as the site of Flight 93's crash).  I remember hearing that my college campus......Pitt-Johnstown....was built on Indian Burial grounds and that you would see an indian chief walking down the hall of one of the dorms.   There is also an urban legend about a mine that collapsed and a certain path that if you walk, you will pass by some miners.

Wait a minute....something is tickling my brain about Grandview Cemetary and the site where all the unidentified victims are buried.  Let me see if I can find it out or possibly remember it.  I think it had something to do with the tombstones.........let's see what I can dig up!

#12 dresmith

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Posted 01 January 2003 - 12:16 PM

Wow, I'm 30 min north of Pittsburgh and would love to check out Johnstown.  New Castle/Ellwood City Area.  There is also a road that I used to live nearby that has a very eerie vibe on a particular stretch.  My girlfriend lived close to this road and said that one night she looked off the bridge and saw a fire burning in the middle of the river?? Very odd.  She also said that pets in the area were disappearing at a high rate.   Cults maybe?  Anyway Johnstown sounds cool.  I would love to go and check out the bridge.

#13 DSF

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 05:43 AM

Hey dresmith,

Welcome to GV!   Where is this road that you used to live by that gave you the eerie feeling?  Just wondering if I have ever heard of it before.

I think we might have to organize a mini trip to Johnstown this spring to check out several of the sites there.  What do you guys think about that?

#14 dresmith

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 10:34 AM

Hello Mrs. Spooky Pants;

Thank you for welcoming me to ghost village.  I'm kinda new at this although I've been studying the paranormal for over 15 years (and I'm only 27!)  I used to perform psychic readings (tarot and clairvoyant) but I've given that up for ghost hunting.

I've been reading and collecting paranormal items since I can remember (before the age of 10).  When I was thirteen I had three Ouija boards and another automatic writing device.  I don't know why I was drawn to the paranormal.  Why are any of us?

The road I speak of is in wayne twp. which is between ellwood city and portersville, pa.  The whole road doesn't have a bad vibe, but it is terrible when it starts. you start down one hill (where the vibe starts),cross a bridge at the bottom,  and start up the other side.  When you get to the top of the second hill the feeling dissapates.  I'm not sure of the actual road name but I think it branches off of Hogue Road which is accessible off of RT 65 from Ellwood City to New Castle.

#15 dresmith

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 10:35 AM

BTW,

I would love to check out Johnstown and learn more about the flood.




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