Johnstown Flood National Memorial, South Fork

4.6
#28 of 145 in Nature in Pennsylvania
National Park · Historic Site
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Johnstown Flood National Memorial commemorates the more than 2,200 people who died and the thousands injured in the Johnstown Flood on May 31, 1889. The flood was caused by a break in the South Fork Dam, an earthen structure known to be structurally lacking. The memorial is located at 733 Lake Road near South Fork, Pennsylvania, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The memorial preserves the remains of the dam and portions of the former Lake Conemaugh bed, along with the farm of Elias Unger and the clubhouse of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club which owned the dam and reservoir. Hiking trails connect various parts of the memorial, and picnicking areas are present throughout. The United States Congress authorized the national memorial on August 31, 1964.
Visitors can tour the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Clubhouse and the Lake View Visitor Center. In 2006, the clubhouse was acquired by the National Park Service as part of the Johnstown Flood National Memorial. It can be toured by ranger interpretation or van guided. The visitor center includes the Unger House and the Springhouse. It has two floors of exhibits and the “Black Friday” film. Permanent exhibits consist of maps, views of the former dam, tactile displays, historic photographs of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, reproduction Morgue Book, oral history of flood survivor Victor Heiser.
To visit Johnstown Flood National Memorial on your trip to South Fork, use our South Fork vacation planning site.
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Johnstown Flood National Memorial reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
224 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • This was an unexpected treat. Very interesting. I had heard of the Johnstown flood, but had thought little of it. While visiting friends in the area, they brought us here, and it was a good visit.....  more
    This was an unexpected treat. Very interesting. I had heard of the Johnstown flood, but had thought little of it. While visiting friends in the area, they brought us here, and it was a good visit.....  more »
  • Good audio by a survivor of the floods showcases one floor of the Visitor Center. The other floor presented photos and artifacts from the flood. According to that information there have been two... 
    Good audio by a survivor of the floods showcases one floor of the Visitor Center. The other floor presented photos and artifacts from the flood. According to that information there have been two...  more »
Google
  • This museum has been informational to me since a field trip there when I was young until now when I take my own kids here. The tragedy was horrible and there is the realistic dark side to it (like most disasters) but I feel that you could still share this with young kids and only get into as much detail as the parents wanted to. Maybe skip the movie....it can be a little intense, however is well done and key for the adults to experience. The grounds are unique to be able to actually still see the remains of the dam and really visualize where the water laid. Recently as well this park allowed me to fly my kite here (with permission that should be attained by anyone looking to do so) which is a unique experience at the top of the hill. Its a beautiful view and a somber place to reflect on the 1889 events as well as your own thoughts of the day.
  • This place is wonderful in that it offers a unique perspective of the geography of the Johnstown Flood of 1889. There was some very eye-catching exhibits of the events and the artifacts, and the grounds were beautiful. Had the weather been nicer, we would have taken advantage of the Carriage Road Nature Trail. The movie, as one other reviewer pointed out, maybe a little too intense for some kids. There's images of people drowning, a picture of a dead baby, and thunderous sounds of rushing water. The vibration of sound goes right through you. My teen said it hit him deeper knowing that it happened to real people. I guess that makes it an effective video. The narrator talked about walking through cemeteries and speaking to the spirits. At the end they read notes from the morgue, giving numbers and then a name or "unknown" and the condition of their bodies. If you can do both this and the Johnstown Museum on Washington Street, it is worth the 20 minute drive, and the price of admission. If I had to choose one or the other, I couldn't. Each place offers a different perspective. Literally. This place felt more professionally curated, but a little antiseptic, while the museum in town felt more authentic. Just don't get me started on the parking situation in town. ;-) Maybe we missed it but the one thing we wish we could have seen was where Johnstown was in relation to where we were standing.

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