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72 THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD.

mountain that the great mass of water came down the Conemaugh river. It was a mass of water with a front forty feet high, and an eighth of a mile wide. Its velocity was so great that its first sweep did little damage on either side. It had no time to spread. Where it burst from the gap it swept south until it struck the bridge, and, although it was ten feet or more deep over the top of the bridge, the obstruction of the mass of masonry was so great that the head of the rush of water was turned back along the Pennsylvania Railroad bluff on the left, and, sweeping up to where it met the first stream again. licked up the portion of the town on the left side of the triangular plain. A great eddy was thus formed. Through the Stony Creek Gap to the right there was a rush of surplus water. In two minutes after the current first burst through, forty feet deep. with a solid mass of water whirling around with a current of tremendous velocity, it was a whirlpool vastly greater that that of ten Niagaras. The only outlet was under and over the railroad bridge, and the continuing rush of waters into the valley from the gap was greater for some time than the means of escape at the bridge.
    "Standing now at the bridge," says a visitor on Monday, "where this vast whirlpool struggled for exit, the air is heavy with smoke and foul with nameless odors from a mass of wreckage. The


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Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury and Diann Olsen