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Not Flood Nor Fire, Just A Blog Unattended

Here we go, boys and girls. I miss you all when I’m away, and look forward to catching up and finding out what you’ve been up to while I’ve been “away” from the wonderful world of WordPress. At the same time, tons of detritus has built up behind the dam while I’ve been attending to other concerns. So, let the fires begin….

The_Great_Conemaugh_Valley_Disaster

Nothing like a marginally obscure, and somewhat tenuous, historical reference to jump back into the blog, but…

I live about 30 miles from Johnstown, PA, sometimes known as “Flood City, USA.” That’s gallows humor, northern Appalachian style. Johnstown was a major steel producing city built in the bottom of river valleys where the Stonycreek and Conemaugh come together, but it has become more famous for the series of catastrophic floods that have swept through the city, beginning with the greatest and worst in 1889. Upstream, a private dam at a summer retreat owned by a group of mostly Pittsburgh-based super-wealthy robber barons, held back a lake on the Conemaugh, surrounded by ornate vacation mansions on beautifully manicured grounds. The rich folks would come up during the hot and humid summer months to escape the pollution in the city. The earthen dam didn’t merit a lot of attention. It was a cobbled together, poorly engineered thing that had been repaired using highly technological means such as, ahem, shoving tree stumps into leaks. May of 1889 was a particularly damp month, and in the last days of the month the rains were incessant.

On May 31, the damn broke, releasing 20 million tons of water in the already engorged watershed. Johnstown, about a dozen miles downstream, never had a chance. Hundreds were killed as the initial wall of water scoured the valley floor, and many more died at the stone bridge in the city, where a magnificent buildup of debris piled up and, adding horror atop horrors, caught on fire. At the time, it was considered the greatest disaster in American history, and even now it the carnage has been eclipsed only by the 9/11 Attacks and the great Galveston flood. The city would suffer additional floods of lesser magnitude in 1936 and 1977.

Unlike at the South Fork Dam, no one will die from my poorly maintained blog, but the device for this post crept into my head and I decided to roll with it. Inattention, stuff building up at the dam–if nothing else, I found a way to throw a little history your way.

In the meantime, it is time to let the clean-up begin, and that starts with getting all the saved Junk sorted and passed along to you. We may even see days with multiple posts…