Lytle Statement

Q. Where were you employed at the time of the Johnstown flood?
A. South Fork.

Q. In what capacity?
A. Division Foreman.

Q. Please state where your division commenced and ended.
A. My division commenced a little over a mile east of South Fork and ended a mile and a quarter west of South Fork, west of the viaduct.

Q. How long had you been employed there.
A. I have had charge of the Division 17 years.

Q. Do you recollect the rain that fell that produced that flood?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Just tell me in your own way what the character of the rain was as compared with any you have ever seen.
A. I don't know as I ever saw the water as high as it was at that time, since I have lived there in 17 years. It rained a continuous rain for forty-eight hours and the water was very high before the dam broke, but I thing it had probably fallen three or four inches just before the dam did break.

Q. What slides, if any, were there on your division before the dam broke?
A. There was none. Only a little wash along the ditches.

Q. Did you ever see such a flood as that in the Conemaugh in all the 17 years you had been there?
A. No, sir, I don't think I ever saw the water as high?

Q. Did it seem to be a very strong current; carrying trees and things of that kind?
A. I believe I have seenes (?) [sic] much drift and such like going down the river before. I do not think there was any more at that time.

Q. Where were you when the flood came from the dam?
A. I was a little west of No. 5 bridge, between that and the tower. I was standing there when I seen it coming, and I though I would try to get over home; my family lives at South Fork, but I seen I couldn't get across the bridge, and I ran for the hill.

Q. Did yourfamily [sic] get out?
A. They got out, but I didn't know how they got out until I walked around by Summerhill, and gothome [sic]. They all got out but they made a very narrow escape.

Q. What did the flood look like when you saw it coming?
A. It looked to me as if a mountain was coming.

Q. How high did it look to be?
A. Well, as near as I can judge, when it struck No. 5 bridge, I would say not less than fifty feet high; that is the main portion of it, drift and all.

Q. What destruction or damage did the flood do to your division?
A. Well, it destroyed the roadbed entirely from a quarter of a mile west of "SC" tower to the viaduct; took it all away.

Q. What about the bridges?
A. Well, bridge 3 and the Viaduct were both swept away. That's all the bridges on my division. There was a small bridge at ( ?ers ) Coal Works that was swept away.

Q. Did it sweep the viaduct away clean and clear?
A. Yes, sir, all but a small part of the foundation.

Q. About how high was the viaduct?
A. About 70 feet from the water.

Q. How many spans?
A. One.

Q. What information did you have during Friday morning as to the condition of South Fork dam?
A. We didn't have any information at all. The only warning I heard was about 12.30 when a man by the name of Mr. Tadbert (?) came in saying that the water was running over the breast of the dam.

Q. Where does he live?
A. Just above the station at South Fork. He is employed by the Argyle Coal Company driving team. That's all the warning I had until when I was standing west of No. 5 bridge, I heard a man up on the hill at the coal works there, hollowing that it was coming.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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