Johnstown - Town of Catastrophe
Johnstown was the location of one of the worst natural disasters in US history. In 1889 the South Fork Dam, 14 miles upriver from the town, failed and caused the deaths of 2,200 people in the city. Downtown the high water mark is said to have been 21 feet above the streets, but some estimates show the flood reached town as a 40 foot tall, half mile wide wall with the force of Niagara Falls.
In 1936 the city again suffered a major flood due to heavy rains and melting snow, but this time the death toll was much lower, between 12 and 24 people. The water is said to have risen some 17 feet above the level of the city's streets.
1977 saw another flood disaster in Johnstown as heavy storms arrived and several small dams burst, killing some 85 people. The water in the city only reached 8.5 feet above the streets, helped by a Corps of Engineers flood relief effort in the city after the 1936 flood.
Another catastrophe occurred not too far from this south central PA city in 2001 when Flight 93 was hijacked and crashed on September 11th killing all 44 people on board.