Trip Planner: USA / Pennsylvania / Johnstown / Johnstown Flood Museum
The Johnstown Flood Museum is a history museum located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The museum is housed in the Cambria Public Library Building.On May 31, 1889, a neglected dam above the city of Johnstown that held back a lake, burst. An hour later, a 40-foot wall of water, reaching 40 miles an hour, raced into Johnstown. It killed 2,209 people, leaving thousands homeless and a prosperous town a wasteland.The Johnstown Flood Museum chronicles the events of the flood through many exhibits and media. Every hour, the museum shows the Academy Award winning documentary, The Johnstown Flood in the Robert S. Waters Theater. This documentary, created by filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, tells the gruesome tale from before the dam broke to the horrifying aftermath of the destruction. The theater and the film were refurbished and upgraded in 2009–2010. The film, which had been shown on 35 mm film since 1989, has been transferred onto a high-definition digital format, enabling a perfect presentation every time the film is shown. New projection equipment and theater controls were installed as well. Finally, the film now features captions for the deaf and hearing-impaired. The seats were reupholstered, and carpet has been replaced.Exhibits include the relief map that uses lights and sounds to display the path of the flood. Surrounding the map are several artifacts including a bottle of flood water, the wall of debris, a morgue book, and a quilt used to drag survivors to safety. You can also view cartoons and movie clips that are centered on the flood as well as news reports and Victorian Steroptic photographs.The museum also features a restored Oklahoma house, a temporary structure used to house survivors. The house is 1 1/2 stories and there were only a few rooms. Plan to visit Johnstown Flood Museum during your Johnstown vacation using our convenient Johnstown online sightseeing planner.
Johnstown Flood Museum reviews
Have waited to see Johnstown since I read an excerpt of David McCullough's book in my mother's American Heritage magazine in the '60s. Hard to live up to that hype, but I wasn't disappointed. Would...
Have waited to see Johnstown since I read an excerpt of David McCullough's book in my mother's American Heritage magazine in the '60s. Hard to live up to that hype, but I wasn't disappointed. Would... more »
Johnstown is my mother's home town until she was 12. After 67 years, she made a short visit while we were in the area. I remember reading books as a child about the flood. The museum and exhibits...
Johnstown is my mother's home town until she was 12. After 67 years, she made a short visit while we were in the area. I remember reading books as a child about the flood. The museum and exhibits... more »
Definitely a must to visit once. Very concise history of the event. Recommend doing in conjunction with the memorial, and a visit to the rest of the town. Slightly costly tho.
Definitely a must to visit once. Very concise history of the event. Recommend doing in conjunction with the memorial, and a visit to the rest of the town. Slightly costly tho. more »
Incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff who assisted with my questions and offered me up some interesting insights and stories about that infamous day! Thank you so much! The video on the flood was phenomenal! Really enjoyed the displays for they truly brought home that tragic and gut-wrenching experience! An hour well spent, indeed!
Worth it just to see the lighted diorama describing the flood. Nice film about the flood. Neat artifacts. Cool old building built as a library after the flood. Carnegie donated the funds. Don’t miss the Oklahoma house!
We met Barb when we came in. She had so much information. She is definitely a great asset to the museum. We had already learned about the flood but there were so many pictures and stories that it was so heartbreaking. So many people lost their lives unnecessarily.
Nice museum for a historical day trip. Very sad at times due to tye events. If you like history this is a good deal. Not to expensive.
Truly a local gem with some serious PARKING ISSUES. The struggle was that we had no prior knowledge of the town, and I could not find any obvious information either from Google Maps, or the JAHA website on where to park. Google Maps shows a decent parking lot adjacent to the museum, but it's not available for visitor parking. There were several other parking lots that we drove past, that were by permit only. There is a parking garage at the corner of Walnut and Vine, but it's 4 blocks away. At the corner of Walnut and Washington there was a blue sign with an arrow pointing over the bridge for the museum parking lot. We parked in the first lot we saw, which runs along the Conemaugh River, and is immediately past the bridge. When I asked a museum staffer, they said the correct lot was across the bridge next to the red caboose. This means you take a left after crossing the bridge heading towards the train station. This requires you to cross 3 busy streets on foot, and if you have kids in tow, this could be a nightmare. I think having this information beforehand would have been helpful. All that complaining aside, this museum oozes with charm and history. The first level has a very clear lit-up diorama-like map that shows you the timeline from the moment the dam broke, to the time it hit Johnstown. The 2nd floor is more modern with a theater that regularly shows a really good, short film on the disaster. The 3rd floor is an open space, much the way it looked when it was built in 1891, with a really neat organ. At a price of $7.50 for students 3-17, and adults at $9.50, I felt this wasn't outrageous for a non-profit. If you can do both the museum and the NPS Memorial (free), which are 20 minutes apart, I would do both, as they offer different perspectives. Literally. If I had to chose one, I couldn't. The Johnstown museum feels more authentic, but the NPS Memorial offered more space to walk around outside, and a more dramatic video of the tragedy.
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