Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Johnstown Flood of 1889

The Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood, known as the Great Flood of 1889 occurred on May 31, 1889 – the result of the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam 14 miles upstream of Johnstown, combined with many days of heavy rainfall. Over 2,000 people were killed in the flood, making it the largest U.S. disaster in the century.

My great-grandparents, Adolph and Nannie Voegtly, lived in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania at the time of the flood, approximately 90 miles from Johnstown.

Here's a copy of a Western Union Telegraph sent on June 5, 1889, to my great-great-grandmother from Mrs. Jolly Reid in Barre, PA. The text reads "To Mrs. Hays, Waynesburg, PA, All well and safe from Johnstown flood. Telegraph how you are. Mrs. Jolly Reid."


  1. Fascinating. Have you read the David McCullough book about the flood? Very good read. This history is all so engaging, even though it's not my family!

  2. I'm looking forward to reading that book. Thanks for the nice words Adam!