Stormer statement

Whereyou [sic] a track foreman in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in May last?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long was your division?
A. A little over two miles and a hald [sic] long.

Q. Between what points?
A. Between East Conemaugh and the stone bridge at Johnstown.

Q. How long had you been there?
A. Since the 20th of August last.

Q. Were you there on Friday morning the day of the flood?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Go on and tell us what time any portion of the track west of Conemaugh was washed out.
A. Well, along about half-past 11 it commenced washing the first track away, closest to the river, what we call the river siding. It just went in and cut a hole in;

Q. That was done by the river breaking out of its banks and cutting into the railroad bank?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you see where the Day Expresses and Mail were placed that morning in the yard?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Well, now, I wish you would state whether in your judgment, considering the high water and the condition of the tracks, it would have been prudent in the dispatcher at Conemaugh to have started those trains out?
A. Well, they could have went east all right before noon, but after that, the track was washed out too much.

Q. Considering the height of the flood, wouldn't it have been rather dangerous to have undertaken to do it?
A. Well, there was trouble, and you didn't know when you was going to run into a land slide or washout. It would have been about as safe to let them stand still until they saw what the result of the flood w as. [sic]

Q. They were in a safe place, were they?
A. Yes, sir, there were four or five tracks between the Day Expresses and the river.

Q. Did you hear anything said there at Conemaugh about the dam being unsafe?
A. Oh, yes, that was talked of a good bit that morning. Some thought if it broke out, it would sweep the whole place out. I heard it two or three times when I was taking the goods out of my house. The water was up in the house along about one o'clock. There was some said the report was that the dam was liable to break at any minute, and to prepare for the worst. I put a man to watch the channel while I was taking my goods out, so when he notified me, I could run.

Q. Did you see it coming?
A. I believe I was the first man in Conemaugh that seen that; that is, a resident of Conemaugh.

Q. What did it look like?
A. It look ed [sic] like a mountain of trees.

Q. How high do you think it was?
A. Oh it looked to me about 60 or 80 feet high. I looked up in the mountain there where the channel is narrow; where the river hasn't much of a channel;

Q. And how wide was it?
A. I couldn't just tell. It filled up the valley and swept over everything.

Q. Does the river come in at an angle about where those trains stood or not?
A. The river inclines to run away from where the trains stood.

Q. How many feet do you suppose the water went over the yard at Conemaugh?
A. I marked it on an engine there that a man was standing on th [sic] the cab of the engine--a [sic] man by the name of John Grove, Baggage Master, and the water was within about a foot or so of the top of the cab where he was standing. It was on several tracks closer to the river than the Day Expresses were standing.

Q. How high would that be above the top of the rail?
A. Why it would be, I suppose about nine or ten feet anyhow.

Q. It swept everything before it as it came?
A. Oh yes. The round house stood it until it commenced to get nearly as high as the roof of her, and then it all went like an egg shell.

Q. Were any of the tracks washed out at Conemaugh before the water from the dam came?
A. Right there in the yard was the only washout, on what we call River siding at Johnstown. That had tumbled in.

Q. How high was the water over the tracks when that took place?
A. It wasn't up to our main line then yet, but it had washed the cinder away and the tracks fell down in.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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