Day of the Dam Breach

  • Neil M. Coleman


The testimonials taken by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1889 preserve remarkable eyewitness accounts from the day of the flood, from the early hours that day through the passing of the flood wave. The stories are best told in the words of those witnesses. After getting word of problems on the rails east of Johnstown, PRR executives Michael Trump and Robert Pitcairn boarded trains and headed east. The explicit messages they received about the danger to the South Fork dam gave them both opportunities to warn the towns below that dam and their own employees and passengers along the Little Conemaugh River. Their failure to do so undoubtedly cost many lives.

“Hell is empty And all the devils are here.”

— William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I


Johnstown flood, 1889 Robert Pitcairn Michael Trump East Conemaugh Pennsylvania Railroad John Parke Day Express Charles Warthen John Hampton Alfred Brown President Harrison Neil Coleman 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil M. Coleman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Energy and Earth ResourcesUniversity of Pittsburgh at JohnstownJohnstownUSA

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