The Forgotten Dam: The Eastern Reservoir at Hollidaysburg and Its Role in Canal History

  • Neil M. ColemanEmail author
  • Stephanie Wojno


Forgotten today, the Eastern Dam and reservoir near Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania provided dry season flows to the Main Line Canal east of the Allegheny Mountains. After years of delays the dam was completed in 1847, but by the 1850’s it was already rendered obsolete by the construction of a continuous rail route across the state. In 1857 the canal system and the Eastern Dam were sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad. The dam was intentionally notched in the winter of 1882, preventing a deep lake from reforming. Had this not been done, calculations reveal the dam would have failed in the great storm of 1889 causing a catastrophic flood, likely destroying the low-lying parts of Williamsburg 21 km downstream. The embankment of this dam still exists on private ground south of Hollidaysburg as a monument to engineering skills in the mid-1800’s.
“There is nothing new except what is forgotten.”
  • Mademoiselle Bertin, milliner to Marie Antoinette


Eastern dam Hollidaysburg Pennsylvania Canal Frankstown branch Feeder canal Juniata River Neil Coleman Stephanie Wojno LiDAR Spillway Main line Dam breach Flood 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Energy and Earth ResourcesUniversity of Pittsburgh at JohnstownJohnstownUSA
  2. 2.JohnstownUSA

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