• 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

Nature & Science

Johnstown Flood National Memorial commemorates the nation's deadliest flood in history. On May 31, 1889 the dam at Conemaugh Lake, which provided fishing, hunting, and boating opportunities for the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club members, burst. The 450-acre lake emptied, sending water rushing toward the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, causing death and destruction. Over 2,000 men, women and children were killed.

Today, visitors can stand on either of the remaining dam abutments and look out over the empty lakebed to get a visual idea of how much water converged on the city of Johnstown. Managed as a wet meadow, the lakebed now supports a variety of plant, tree and shrub species on both sides of the meandering South Fork of the Little Conemaugh River. Birds, butterflies and insects thrive on the abundant flower and fruit sources, and an occasional deer can be seen grazing.

Did You Know?

Red Cross hotel sign

Some survivors were housed in "Oklahoma" houses, one of the first kind of temporary prefabricated homes ever made. Others lived in Red Cross "hotels."