Friday, March 13, 2020

Johnstown, PA II (3/13/2020)

Friday, March 13, 2020 (continued)
In Johnstown, PA, we have seen that many ethnic groups have settled here looking for work in the coal mines and steel mills.
A visit to the Heritage Discovery Center (2001), located in a 1907
building constructed for the Germania Brewery
The exhibit "America: Through Immigrant Eyes"
started with information about the Old Country, then
we entered Ellis Island through customs
We had our passes that we placed in a slot,
and "interacted" with the customs official;
the official hoped I was truly here to get married
The official did not like the Polish, but allowed
Kent/Stefan to enter as he had no diseases
Next we arrived in the Johnstown train station, and the videos showed Stefan talking to someone about where to get a job, and Maria meeting the man she was to marry.
We walked through the "1907 Neighborhood."
Stefan's Monthly Budget
Both of us were refused work in the coal mines (they had
a couple displays with the projected video heads/faces)
One local immigrant, Sergeant Michael Strank,
was one of the Marines in the photograph of
the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima
View of the Cambria City neighborhood
We climbed to the fifth floor (the elevator was not working) for the exhibit on products made in Johnstown, PA.
Bunny Bread logo, of the Harris-Boyer Bakery

National Radiator Company
Cut glass "Pond Lily" design was patented by a local
master cutter, William Allen
A phonograph with lamp by the
Modernola Talking Machine Company
The 2nd floor exhibit was "Johnstown: Where We Work" that included more artifacts.
Wire steel products that use wire from Johnstown Wire Technologies,
the largest producer of value-added carbon and alloy wire in North America
Horn buttons
Another building housed the "Iron & Steel Gallery," with art-like photos of working and derelict steel mills, and a movie that we skipped.
"The Steelworkers' Story" displayed artifacts from
different divisions and listed the donors' names
and time of service in the steel industry
The channeled Little Conemaugh River and the
Johnstown Inclined Plane (1891) track on the hillside
The Inclined Plane/funicular, the "world's steepest vehicular inclined plane," was built as an escape route from floods and mode of transportation for residents of the communities being established on Yoder Hill.
Next to the Johnstown Flood Museum, which along with the Heritage Discovery Center, has reciprocity with Tyler Arboretum.
Johnstown Flood Museum (1989) is located in the former
 Cambria Public Library (1890-1891, by Addison Hutton in
French Gothic Revival style, paid for by Andrew Carnegie,
making it one of the first Carnegie libraries in the country)
Here we did watch the documentary movie about the Johnstown Flood of 1889, "a calamity of Biblical proportions," and certainly the deadliest flood in American history. Although the city was used to flooding in their basements and ground floors, they were not prepared to have the contents of a lake barrel through. During a record-breaking rainstorm, an old barely-maintained dam 14 miles up the Little Conemaugh River burst, releasing the waters of Lake Conemaugh, previously used for the pleasure of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. (The Club was not officially liable for the flood, but member Andrew Carnegie did pay to rebuild the library...)
A 35-40' wave of water rushed down the narrow valley, picking up debris so that it was more solid than water. The wall of water was momentarily stopped by a stone railroad bridge, but that collapsed and added to the debris being carried to Johnstown. The force of the wave swept along buildings, trees, and even train locomotives. Bodies were found as far away as Cincinnati, OH, and as late as 1911.
After flood waters traveling at 40 miles per hour made a clean sweep of parts of the city of Johnstown, fires broke out causing more deaths.
Bridge railing
Bottle of flood water collected by a tourist;
750 out of 2,209 flood victims were never identified
and could have been people on sightseeing excursions
The Stone Bridge (1887-1888, for the Pennsylvania Railroad) survived
the Flood of 1889 and in fact blocked much of the debris from
continuing down the Conemaugh River, resulting in less damage downstream
The surviving citizens cleaned up the debris and decided to rebuild. The steel mills resumed operation. The relief effort was supported by donations from around the world. It was here where the American Red Cross, under Clara Barton, had its first major peacetime project, and Barton remained in Johnstown for nearly five months.
The Johnstown "thing to do" is to eat at
Coney Island Lunch (1916); also note the campanile
(1895) of St John Gualbert Cathedral inspired by
the St Mark's Basilica campanile in Venice, Italy
This is a classic Coney Island hot dog with its Greek chili-like
savory meat sauce, mustard, and onions (shredded cheese also an option)
This is a foot-long Homewrecker Coney Island hot dog additionally
with 3 slices of cheese, nacho cheese and a topping of choice from
American mac 'n' cheese, Pittsburgh coleslaw,
German sauerkraut, or Boston baked beans (seen here)
Self-serve water spigot at the end of the counter
We drove over to the Johnstown Flood National Memorial Visitor Center perched on a hilltop overlooking the site of the South Fork Dam. The earthenwork dam was built 1838-1853 as a reservoir for the canal basin in Johnstown. It was abandoned when the canals were no longer used. In 1880 land including the dam and lake was purchased by the newly organized South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club to establish a summer retreat for wealthy Pittsburgh entrepreneurs, including Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon. When leaks developed in the dam, they were patched with straw and mud.
Diorama illustration of a flood survivor's story heard through speakers
Bell from the Mineral Point United Methodist Church;
when the 1889 flood waters swept through
Mineral Point, the bell tolled as the church was rocked
from its foundation, and was later found eight miles away
A view down to the Little Conemaugh River and the remains
of the South Fork dam, marked by the taller evergreen
trees toward the center and right in the photo
The former spillway should have relieved the amount of water
pressing against the dam, but the mouth became jammed with debris
because of screens installed to keep fish in the lake
A view upstream from the former dam at what was once
seven-mile long Lake Conemaugh, 
Looking across the valley where the viewing platform
marks to other end of the earthenworks dam
A view downstream as the Little Conemaugh River heads to Johnstown
Looking back at the National Memorial Visitor Center and
the house of the last club president, Colonel Elias Unger
We then headed to Buffalo, NY to see family. The rest of the Tyler Arboretum reciprocity trip was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.