The main water source at Johnstown Flood National Memorial, the South Fork of the Little Conemaugh River, flows through the park. Unfortunately, acidic mine drainage from the Saint Michael and Beaverdale areas pollutes the river upstream. High levels of aluminum, iron, and sulfates have colored the riverbed and surrounding banks white, orange and yellow. While the water is too polluted to support fish, it is not entirely lifeless. Researchers have found evidence that the river supports some forms of life such as pollution-tolerant insects and bacteria. Efforts are underway to remediate the mine pollution upstream of the park, which will improve the future water quality within the park.
Did You Know?
Before the flood hit East Conemaugh, train engineer John Hess tried to warn the residents by tying his train whistle down and racing to town ahead of the wave.