“The story of an american tragedy”
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. In 2000, the Johnstown Flood Museum expanded its permanent exhibits with the addition of an original "Oklahoma" house, one of the first types of temporary houses erected to shelter the people left homeless by the flood. Originally manufactured for homesteaders in the Oklahoma Territory, these buildings were a very early example of prefabricated housing. The one-and-a-half story temporary houses were developed in Chicago and came in two sizes -- 16-by-24 feet and 10-by-20 feet. Many Johnstown families combined one large and one small Oklahoma to accommodate their needs. The houses were not attractive -- nor were they suitable for the harsh Southwestern Pennsylvania winters. A reporter from the Harrisburg Telegraph, after seeing one of the small structures, described it as ". . . a shell-like affair of drab color and has about as many points of architectural beauty as the coal shed behind a country school house."
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Johnstown Children's Museum
- Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
- Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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