Division Foreman Stoner Statement

Q. Where were you employed at the time of the Johnstown flood?
A. I was employed at Mineral Point by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

Q. What was your position?
A. Division Foreman.

Q. What was the extent of your division?
A. The east end of the division was at the viaduct or just a little west of the viaduct, and the west of the division is where the Johnstown water dam is.

Q. What is the length of it?
A. Two miles and a half.

Q. What were your duties?
A. My duty was, so far as I understand it, to see to the repairs of that two miles and a half of track, and if I understand right, was to see that the whole division was kept in good repair, and see that the men discharge their duties as laborers should.

Q. You had a number of men under you?
A. I had 11 men at that time.

Q. I wish you would state what the character of the man was that preceded the breaking of the South Fork dam.
A. My watchman told me that it rained hard, and very hard, the most part of Thursday night, and I was called out between four and five o'clock, I can't just give the exact time, but it was near five o'clock, on account of a land slide that we had, and it was raining very hard then; it apeard [sic] that an umbrella didn't amount to anything in that rain. We worked at that slide, with some of the men, I suppose, until half past seven

Q. Where was that slide?
A. The slide was about---it [sic] wasn't quite a quarter of a mile east of Mineral Point station.

Q. What was the extent of it?
A. It wasn't very much of a slide, but it kept coming all the time, right ahead of the fast passenger trains.

Q. How many tracks did it obstruct?
A. Only one.

Q. What did you do at that point?
A. We shovelled the dirt off the track, and the water came over the bank there very fast, and we turned the water into a small culvert there, and turned it off.

Q. Up to that time, had any of the track been washed out?
A. No, sir, I don't think it had.
Then, I made a trip over my division, and I also had men stationed all along because it was raining very hard, and we were looking for land slides, and we watched very carefully.

Q. Had you more than that one slide?
A. No, sir, that was all I had on my division. At I suppose about ten o'clock, I wouldn't say the exact hour, I was at the east end of my division, just at the viaduct, and just after noon, I couldn't say just what time it was, I made a trip to the west end of my division, although I had men stationed right along, but there had been no track washed out at that time.

Q. How many years have you lived in that country?
A. Six years.

Q. Did you ever see a flood in the Conemaugh before?
A. No, sir, not like that.

Q. That isn't what I asked you. Did you ever see any flood there before?
A. Oh yes, I have seen floods there before that was high, but nothing like that.

Q. Would you say that this was an extraordinary flood?
A. Yes, sir, I would. I think it became extraordinary after it began to break over, or come from the dam. The water took a very sudden raise. It must have raised three feet in an hour and a half.

Q. At what point?
A. At Mineral Point. The fence around my lot reached right on the river bank, and I could tell just how much it was raising by the fence, as there,were [sic] six inch boards in the fence, and six inch cracks between the boards. It was never p [sic] up to the fence at all before.

Q. Where were you when the flood came?
A. I was at the slide, and I saw the telegraph poles and wires give a jerk, and I knew something was wrong then, and I started for my house, running as hard as I could. I have a wife and three children, and I wanted to get them out.

Q. Did you g et them out?
A. We staid in the house all the time; the water got up pretty close but didn't take it.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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