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History of the Johnstown Flood
seven hundred acres of water, and you can have only a faint conception of the terrible force of the blow that came upon the people of this vicinity like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky. It was irresistible in its power and carried everything before it. After seeing the lake and the opening through the dam it can be readily understood how that outbreak came to be so destructive in its character.
The lake had been leaking, and a couple of Italians were at work just over the point where the break occurred, and in an instant, without warning it gave way and they went down in the whirling mass of water, and were swept into eternity.
Mr. Crouse, proprietor of the South Fork Fishing Club Hotel says: “When the dam of Conemaugh lake broke the water seemed to leap, scarcely touching the ground. It bounded down the valley, crashing and roaring, carrying everything before it. For a mile its front seemed like a solid wall twenty feet high.” The only warning given to Johnstown was sent from South Fork village by Freight Agent Dechert. When the great wall that held the body of water began to crumble at the top he sent a message begging the people of Johnstown for God's sake to take to the hills. He reports no serious accidents at South Fork.
Richard Davis ran to Prospect Hill when the water raised. As to Mr. Dechert's message, he
30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury and Diann Olsen