Fricks Creek and Other Tales

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Six people, including the owner Mr. Schultz, were inside the house when the flood hit. All survived.

Copy of the preceding picture was resold 11 years later as part of the Galveston Texas storm of Floods have continued to be a concern for Johnstown, which had major flooding in , , , , and The biggest flood of the first half of the 20th century was the St. Patrick's Day Flood of March It also reached Pittsburgh, where it was known as the Great Pittsburgh Flood of Following the flood, the U. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the river within the city and built concrete river walls, creating a channel nearly 20 feet deep.

Upon completion, the Corps proclaimed Johnstown "flood free. The new river walls withstood Hurricane Agnes in , but on the night of July 19, , a severe thunderstorm dropped 11 inches of rain in eight hours on the watershed above the city and the rivers began to rise. By dawn, the city was under water that reached as high as 8 feet 2.

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Forty were killed by the Laurel Run Dam failure. Another 50, were rendered homeless as a result of this " year flood ". Markers on a corner of City Hall at Main Street show the height of the crests of the , , and floods. In the years following the disaster, some people blamed the members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club for their modifications to the dam and failure to maintain it properly.

The club had bought and redesigned the dam to turn the area into a vacation retreat in the mountains. They were accused of failing to maintain the dam properly, so that it was unable to contain the additional water of the unusually heavy rainfall.


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The Club was never held legally responsible for the disaster. Knox and Reed successfully argued that the dam's failure was an natural disaster which was an Act of God , and no legal compensation was paid to the survivors of the flood. Nonetheless, individual members of the club, millionaires in their day, contributed to the recovery.

Along with about half of the club members, co-founder Henry Clay Frick donated thousands of dollars to the relief effort in Johnstown. After the flood, Andrew Carnegie , then known as an industrialist and philanthropist, built the town a new library. Many thousand human lives- Butchered husbands, slaughtered wives Mangled daughters, bleeding sons, Hosts of martyred little one, Worse than Herod's awful crime Sent to heaven before their time; Lovers burnt and sweethearts drowned, Darlings lost but never found! All the horrors that hell could wish, Such was the price that was paid for— fish!

On June 5, , five days after the dam breach flood, the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE appointed a committee of four prominent engineers to investigate the cause of the disaster. This committee was led by the esteemed James B. Francis, a hydraulic engineer best known for his work related to canals, flood control, turbine design, dam construction, and hydraulic calculations.

The ASCE committee visited the South Fork dam, reviewed the original engineering design of the dam and modifications made during repairs, interviewed eyewitnesses, commissioned a topographic survey of the dam remnants, and performed hydrologic calculations. In their final report [24] they concluded the South Fork dam would have failed even if it had been maintained within the original design specifications, i. This claim by the ASCE committee has now been challenged.

He gave the investigation report to outgoing President Becker to decide when to release it to the public. A hydraulic analysis published in confirms what had long been suspected, that the changes made to the dam by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club severely reduced the ability of the dam to withstand major storms. Survivors were unable to recover damages in court because of the club's ample resources.


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  • First, the wealthy club owners had designed the club's financial structure to keep their personal assets separated from it and, secondly, it was difficult for any suit to prove that any particular owner had behaved negligently. Though the former reason was probably more central to the failure of survivors' suits against the club, the latter received coverage and extensive criticism in the national press.

    As a result of this criticism, in the s, state courts around the country adopted Rylands v. Fletcher , a British common-law precedent which had formerly been largely ignored in the United States. State courts' adoption of Rylands , which held that a non-negligent defendant could be held liable for damage caused by the unnatural use of land, foreshadowed the legal system's 20th-century acceptance of strict liability.

    At Point Park in Johnstown, at the confluence of the Stonycreek and Little Conemaugh rivers, an eternal flame burns in memory of the flood victims. The flood has been the subject or setting for numerous histories, novels, and other works as well. Chisholm, Hugh, ed.

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    Cambridge University Press. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Johnstown Flood disambiguation. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Library of Congress.

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    World Digital Library. Retrieved 5 January The Johnstown Flood. Retrieved January 2, Archived from the original on December 5, The American National Red Cross. Retrieved 25 January Retrieved 15 February Walter Smoter Frank. Civil Engineering , pp. Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing.

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