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History of the Johnstown Flood
was an irregular oval in shape. The volume of water in it depended on the time of the year.
Some of the people of Johnstown had thought for years that the dam might break, but they did not think that its breaking would do more than flood the flats and damage the works of the Cambria Company.
When the Hunting and Fishing Club bought the site of the old reservoir a section of 150 feet had been washed out of the middle. This was rebuilt at an expense of $17,000 and the work was thought to be very strong. At the base it was 380 feet thick and gradually tapered until at the top it was about 35 feet thick. It was considered amply secure, and such faith had the members of the club in its stability that the top of the dam was utilized as a driveway. It took two years to complete the work, men being engaged from '79 to '81. While it was under process of construction the residents of Johnstown expressed some fears as to the solidity of the work, and requested that it be examined by experts. An engineer of the Cambria Iron Works, secured through Mr. Morrell, of the institution, one provided by Mr. Pitcairn, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Nathan McDowell, chosen by the club itself, made a thorough examination. They pronounced the structure perfectly safe, but suggested some precautionary measures as to the stopping
30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury and Diann Olsen