• A view of the South and North abutments of the South Fork Dam.  The Visitor Center, Unger House, and Spring House are visible in the background.  As is visible, a spur railroad line connects coal trains with the main line of the railroad.

    Johnstown Flood

    National Memorial Pennsylvania

Places

The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club:

The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was formed in 1879 and its first president, Benjamin Ruff, worked diligently to get some of the most prominent men of the Pittsburgh area interested in his venture. The original charter included sixteen men, climbing to 61 in 1889. The members bought shares in the corporation at one hundred dollars apiece, and it seemed almost a requirement to purchase two. Within a few years several cottages and a clubhouse had been built along the shores of the lake. Who owned the cottages is anyone's guess since the only record of who stayed in which cottage belongs to local folklore. But regardless of this matter, the club was a welcome departure from the smoke and dirt of Pittsburgh.

The men that came here hunted, fished, sailed, and had shooting competitions. It was a place far removed from the business of business in Pittsburgh, but not too far, considering the city was only a few hours away by rail.

TIMELINE

The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club

May 19, 1879
The club is incorporated as a not for profit organization.
November 17, 1879
The charter for the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club is filed in Allegheny County.
March 15, 1880
The land is officially granted to the club.
October 14, 1879
The first mention of a new club is reported in the Johnstown Tribune.
December 25, 1879
The first repairs to the dam washed away.
Spring 1880
Under the supervision of Edward Pearson, the repair work to the dam begins.
1881
The repairs are finished and the lake is stocked with black bass from Lake Erie.
1887
Death of club's first president, Benjamin Ruff.
1888
The last cottage to be built at Lake Conemaugh is complete.
May 31, 1889
The dam fails.
1889-1907
The "Johnstown Colony", a group of homeless from that city live in resort buildings.
June 26, 1901
The club turns the entire property over to E. B. Alsip, a trustee of the club.
February 17, 1903
The property is deeded to George Harshberger.
February 25, 1904
Public auction of the club buildings and their contents.
1907
The town of St. Michael, a community surrounding the old resort, is created.
 

The South Fork Dam:

Click on this link to learn the sad history of the South Fork Dam: http://www.nps.gov/jofl/historyculture/south-fork-dam.htm

Woodcut of Dam with Lake

Did You Know?

Memory Jar, Johnstown Flood Museum

People made Memory Jars from items collected among the ruins after the 1889 Flood. There is one such Memory Jar on display at the Johnstown Flood Museum.