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40 THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD.

five years the lake was used only as a fish-pond, and the dam and the gates were forgotten. Five years ago the lake was leased to a number of Pittsburgh men, who stocked it with bass, trout, and other game fish. I have heard it said that the waste-gates had not been opened for a great many years. It this is so, no wonder the dam broke. Naturally the fishermen did not want to open the gates after the lake was stocked, for the fish would have run out. A sluiceway should have been built on the side of the dam, so that when the water reached a certain height the surplus could escape. The dam was not built with the intention that the water should flow over the top of it under any circumstances, and if allowed to escape in that way the water was bound to undermine it in a short time. With a dam the height of this the pressure of a quantity of water great enough to overflow it must be something tremendous.
    “If it is true that the waste-gates were never opened after the Pittsburgh men had leased the lake, the explanation of the bursting of the dam is to be found right there. It may be that the dam had not been looked after and strengthened of late years, and it was undoubtedly weakened in the period of twenty-five years during which the lake was not used. After the construction of the dam the lake was called the Western Reservoir. The south fork of the Conemaugh, which fed the


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Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury and Diann Olsen