Statement of S.A. Cherry

Q. Where were you employed, by whom, and in what capacity, at the time of the flood?
A. In May last I was employed by Mr. Sheaffer in Conemaugh towr [sic]

Q. With the Pennsylvania Railroad Company?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long had you been there?
A. Since the 25th of September 1888.

Q. Now, sir, go on and state whether any message was received at Conemaugh from South Fork, or points between South Fork ad [sic] and Conemaugh, and from whom, and to whom, in reference to the condition of the South Fork dam.
A. Well, there was one message received about 2 o'clock. It was sent to Johnstown, and to the Yard Master at Conemaugh also. There was a later one received at 3.27 from South Fork via Mineral Point. That was also sent to Johnstown, and to the Yard Master at Conemaugh.

Q. What were the contents of the first message?
A. I think it read; to notify the people at Johnstown that the dam was leaking and would go out at any moment.

Q. Who signed that?
A. I think it was signed by Dougherty, the Agent at South Fork. The last one was signed by Wilson.

Q. Who was the first addressed to ?
A. The Yard Master at Conemaugh, and Station Agent at Johnstown. They both were sent down a slide we have there from the upper story to the lower story, and I sent both messages to Johnstown.

Q. How did you send them?
A. I sent them on the wire.

Q. Who did you send the message to over at Johnstown?
A. I sent both messages to our office---the [sic] Company's office, at Johnstown.

Q. Johnstown tower?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you recollect what time communication was interrupted between Conemaugh and South Fork, or do you know?
A. I couldn't tell you the next time; but we could reach Mineral Point up till ten or fifteen minutes before the flood. I don't remember of working with South Fork, or hearing South Fork on the lined from two, or shortly after dinner some time.

Q. How was the line working west of Conemaugh in the direction of Pittsburgh? Had you any communication with Pittsburgh?
A. No, sir, our communication was cut off with Pittsburgh about two or half-past two.

Q. Do you know at what point the break was?
Johnstown A. No, I couldn't say that. We got ^ on up to the time of the flood or a few minutes before the flood.

Q. Do you recollect about the rain-fall? Had it been very heavy for a day or two before the dam broke?
A. It was raining when I went on duty at 12 midnight on Thursday night, and the river was high then. On Friday morning, the rain was coming down in torrents and it kept up until 6 o'clock.

Q. Did it rise steadily after that?
A. I couldn't say personally; I think it did.

Q. What is the name of the operator at Johnstown wh [sic] received your messages?
A. Miss North.

Q. Was there any message received previous to 2.10 about the dam?
A. Not to my recollection. I was at dinner at the time that was received. I was working all night and all day until about 1 o'clock, and at that time, the operator went to dinner, and I staid there, and I went to dinner about a quarter to two.

Q. Miss Ehrenfeld says she sent a message from South Fork to Mineral Point, and the operator at Mineral Point sent it to the next tower by messenger, to be sent to Conemaugh, between 11 and 12 o'clock.You [sic] don't remember of getting that message?
A. No, sir, not unless that was held until 2 o'clock.

Q. You don't know what time it was dated received at your office?
A. About 2 or 2.10; somewheres around there.


Last updated: February 14, 2017

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