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?
The Flood provided the newly formed American Red Cross under the leadership of Clara Barton with its first test. Barton and her staff of 50 doctors and nurses arrived in Johnstown five days after the flood.