From 1880 to 1920, thousands of immigrants from the Slavic countries — Poland, Russia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and more — came to the Johnstown area seeking work in the steel mills and coal mines.
By 1920, an incredible 25 percent of all Johnstown residents were of Slavic descent.
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On May 31, 1889, a neglected dam and a phenomenal storm led to a catastrophe in which 2,209 people died.
It's a story of great tragedy, but also of triumphant recovery.
Visit the Johnstown Flood Museum, which is operated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, to find out more about this shocking episode in American history.
The Johnstown Area Heritage Association receives many inquiries about the 1889 flood.
Please visit the 1889 Flood Resources page on the Archives & Research section of this site for a broad range of links, essays, downloadable information and more.
The following narrative about the 1889 flood is by Edwin Hutcheson, excerpted from "Floods of Johnstown: 1889-1936 -1977," published in 1989 by the Cambria County Tourist Council.
By the morning of May 31, 1889, there was water in the streets.
Business people were moving their wares to the upper stories of their buildings.
Families moved furnishings and supplies they would need to wait out the deluge.