The Johnstown Flood
The Johnstown flood is tragic story. Almost a myth these days, thousands of lives were lost only hundreds saved. David McCullough artfully tells the story of the dam that broke, because of ignorance and neglect, and the individual lives that it affected, he crafts together the facts of the disaster with the emotion making you see and feel the pain and hurt. When the huge dam broke and hundreds of thousands of gallons of water went rushing down into the valley there was nothing anyone could do to save the lives of those caught in its path. There were many lucky ones who managed to get to high ground out of reach of the, “wall of rubbish”, but there were an unbelievable number of victims who were crushed, drowned, injured fatally or burned alive. McCullough’s thorough investigation of the flood leaves him with the ability to write from the perspective of the survivors. He easily creates a way for us to connect with the story by not making it all just statistical facts, but also journalistic facts.
You may be wondering how the dam burst in the first place. Well according to McCullough there were many factors. The dam itself had many internal flaws, like the fact that it sagged a bit in the very middle of the dam where it needed to be the strongest, it would not have been noticeable to the regular eye though. The dam was part of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club, which was a prestigious summer, mountain club. It had members such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. The dam created a lake for the members of the club to go boating (which was very rare, especially in the mountains), but when the dam was being rebuilt for this club many things were overlooked. For example the fact that there was no way of controlling the amount of water it held, this meant that once they raised the level of the water there was no way to go back. There were also many small leaks that were overlooked, passed off as, “springs that came from near the ends...
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