Johnstown Flood


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A May 1889 flood in Jonestown, PA, which killed 2,209 people
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Why did you decide to write about the 1889 Johnstown Flood?
The flood has been the subject of or setting for numerous histories, novels, poems, and other works, including Rebecca Gilman's epic dramatization of the story, A True History of the Johnstown Flood, directed to mixed notices by Robert Falls in 2010 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
"We call the flood a natural disaster, but it was a disaster that occurred from a combination of natural events and human manipulation of the environment," says Megan O'Malley, chief of interpretation at the Johnstown Flood National Memorial.
In fact, while Gilman's heart seems very much with social realism--James' speeches are more passionate, he sees the underlying causes and wants to ask why this event happened--the truth is that "The True History of the Johnstown Flood" works far better in the realm of spectacle, thanks to the extraordinary sets from Walt Spangler, which capture 19th-century drama, Pullman and freight train cars, and a flooded town, all mud and gray.
The house was built after my grandparents and one infant were washed out in the Great Johnstown Flood of May 31,1889.
Others, such as the Johnstown Flood disaster in 1889, caused by a severe rainstorm and a defective dam, were catastrophes caused by a combination of nature and man.
In contrast to the often lofty and magnificent experiences of the child monarchs, SOS: Stories of Survival covers true stories of tragedy and courage including the Johnstown Flood, the Triangle Fire, the Tsunami of 2004, and Hurricane Katrina.
THE AMERICAN PLAGUE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF YELLOW FEVER, THE EPIDEMIC THAT SHAPED OUR HISTORY tells of a virus so destructive that one outbreak cost more lives than the Chicago Fire, the San Francisco Earthquake and the Johnstown flood combined.
The series comes to a close this week with a screening of "Ladies in Love" (1936) today, "A Star Is Born" (1937) on Saturday, "The Young at Heart" (1938) on Wednesday and "The Johnstown Flood" (silent, 1926) on Thursday.
In 1930, in Curwensville, Pennsylvania, he was thunderstruck by images of the 1889 Johnstown Flood. Film--to replace glass photo plates--had just been invented that year, and the flood that claimed nearly 2,800 lives was the first sensational story to jump off American newspapers in good, crisp photographs.
And it was good of the editorial to pay tribute to Stanley Woodward, one of the great columnists and great sports editors, who derided an excuse by Earl (Red) Blaik, football coach at West Point, as being equal to blaming the Johnstown flood on a leaky faucet in Altoona.