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Quiz about The Johnstown Flood
Quiz about The Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown Flood Trivia Quiz


What happens when over 60 rich men found their own exclusive club during the late 1800s? For Johnstown, Pennsylvania, it meant the death of over 2,200 people, the largest loss of American civilian lives on a single day until 9/11/2001.

A multiple-choice quiz by illiniman14. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
illiniman14
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
314,811
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
15
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
10 / 15
Plays
1545
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 71 (7/15), mspurple54 (6/15), AgKrissy (8/15).
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Question 1 of 15
1. In 1852, the Western Reservoir was created to provide water for an area in Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Johnstown. Very soon after it was completed, it was abandoned by the state and eventually sold to private investors, who decided to rename it. What was the lake's new name? Hint


Question 2 of 15
2. Several people bought and sold the reservoir, and despite the dam breaking once in 1862, one owner decided to take out the drainage pipes. Because of this act, there was no possible way to drain the lake in order to make repairs on the dam. Why were the pipes taken out? Hint


Question 3 of 15
3. The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was formed in 1879, and later that year bought the reservoir. Members of the club were made up of some of the wealthiest and most powerful men of the area, from members of the presidential cabinet to industry leaders. Who was the richest member of the club? Hint


Question 4 of 15
4. The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was not content with simply owning a lake in the countryside. Most of the rich members brought yachts and sailboats in order to fish the expensive game fish brought in from elsewhere. In order to keep the fish inside the lake, they put up screens on the spillway. How would this eventually contribute to the coming flood? Hint


Question 5 of 15
5. On May 30, 1889, the Great Storm of 1889 hit Pennsylvania, playing its own part in the tragedy. Over 24 hours, the largest recorded amount of rain fell on the region at that time. How much rain did the US Army Signal Corps estimate fell on the Johnstown area? Hint


Question 6 of 15
6. By coincidence a further factor was that the people in the Johnstown area had little idea of the impact the storm would have since the paper did not run on that day. Why did the "Johnstown Tribune" not publish a paper for May 30? Hint


Question 7 of 15
7. Just after 3:00 PM, water in the South Fork Dam was almost cresting, and it burst under the pressure. An estimated 20 million tons were unleashed over the next 40 minutes. The first town to be hit was South Fork itself, but because of its elevation losses were minor. How many people were killed in South Fork? Hint


Question 8 of 15
8. As the water rushed down the Little Conemaugh River, it was slightly delayed at the Conemaugh Viaduct, but broke through after only 7 minutes. The second town in the way was Mineral Point, where there were around 30 houses. By the time the flood had passed the town, what was left? Hint


Question 9 of 15
9. The last town to be hit before Johnstown was East Conemaugh. Locomotive engineer John Hess heard a loud rumble in the distance and guessed it was a massive flood. He tied down his whistle to warn residents. While over 50 people in the town died, several more were saved due to his actions. What happened to Hess and his locomotive? Hint


Question 10 of 15
10. Many Johnstown residents died because the city was caught by surprise by the flood. However, nothing could be done to save the city itself, since the flood entered the city going as fast as 40 miles per hour and 40 feet tall. What was the total property damage in the entire area following the flood? Hint


Question 11 of 15
11. Just over 2,200 people were killed in the flood, but it was impossible to find all of the bodies. The flood washed many bodies downstream to where the Conemaugh River meets with the Kiskiminetas River, which is a tributary to the Allegheny River, which itself is a tributary to the Ohio River. How far away was the farthest body found from Johnstown? Hint


Question 12 of 15
12. A new American humanitarian organization was founded in 1881, and had primarily been used in wartime to treat the wounded. However, its founder, Clara Barton, knew it could also be used in peacetime. The Johnstown Flood became the first opportunity for the group to show its capabilities, and it did by providing food, hospitals, supplies, and hotels. What organization was this? Hint


Question 13 of 15
13. Survivors of the flood looked for some kind of retribution against the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, so lawsuits were brought against the club. What was the end result of the litigation? Hint


Question 14 of 15
14. Due to the results of the lawsuits, American lawmakers decided to recognize an English tort law case "Rylands v. Fletcher" to deal with similar cases in the future. What legal doctrine did this case address? Hint


Question 15 of 15
15. Despite the dam being destroyed, more natural floods occurred in later years, and are likely to continue. In 1894, 1907, 1924, 1936, and 1977, major flooding hit the area. The 1936 flood also happened around a major holiday and contributed to the Great Pittsburgh Flood of 1936, which is also known by what name? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In 1852, the Western Reservoir was created to provide water for an area in Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Johnstown. Very soon after it was completed, it was abandoned by the state and eventually sold to private investors, who decided to rename it. What was the lake's new name?

Answer: Lake Conemaugh

Lake Conemaugh was named because of its location on the Little Conemaugh River, which eventually joins with the Stonycreek River to form the Conemaugh River in the heart of Johnstown. That was exactly the path that the flood water took in order to reach the city.
2. Several people bought and sold the reservoir, and despite the dam breaking once in 1862, one owner decided to take out the drainage pipes. Because of this act, there was no possible way to drain the lake in order to make repairs on the dam. Why were the pipes taken out?

Answer: To be sold for scrap

It's not really known why one of the previous owners decided to take out the drainage pipes and sell them as scrap, except that the cast iron pipes might have received a good price during the Civil War years. The initial break in 1862 caused little damage, since the lake was only half full. No damage was done outside of the dam, so nobody really thought twice about it.
3. The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was formed in 1879, and later that year bought the reservoir. Members of the club were made up of some of the wealthiest and most powerful men of the area, from members of the presidential cabinet to industry leaders. Who was the richest member of the club?

Answer: Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie was worth nearly $300 billion (adjusted for 2007 inflation) during his life, and that made him by far the richest member of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. The club also included powerful members of the government - Andrew Mellon was the Secretary of the Treasury for nearly 11 years; Philander C. Knox was Secretary of State under President Taft; James W. Brown was a US Representative from Pennsylvania, etc.

The club was formed as a retreat for these wealthy men to get away from the industrial society they had made their fortunes in and enjoy the rural Pennsylvania countryside.
4. The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was not content with simply owning a lake in the countryside. Most of the rich members brought yachts and sailboats in order to fish the expensive game fish brought in from elsewhere. In order to keep the fish inside the lake, they put up screens on the spillway. How would this eventually contribute to the coming flood?

Answer: The screen also blocked debris, so the spillway became clogged and excess water could not get out

Over ten years, the fish screens on the spillway of the dam collected debris, and when excessive rain hit in 1889, the lake simply could not relieve itself of the extra water. During the rain, club members attempted to free the screens, but were unsuccessful. Thanks to the immense pressure of an estimated 20 million tons of water, the dam would collapse, sending all of its water downstream on the Little Conemaugh River, and straight towards Johnstown.
5. On May 30, 1889, the Great Storm of 1889 hit Pennsylvania, playing its own part in the tragedy. Over 24 hours, the largest recorded amount of rain fell on the region at that time. How much rain did the US Army Signal Corps estimate fell on the Johnstown area?

Answer: 6-10 inches

The Great Storm of 1889 was an unusual storm from the very start. The US Army Signal Corps' "Monthly Weather Review" noted that it was an uncharacteristic storm that moved at a slow, steady speed across the United States from May 26-31. When it hit a pressure area that had formed over the Atlantic Ocean, the storm came down on the Allegheny region in full force. One confirmed extreme example of the storm's power was at Grampian Hills, where 8.6 inches of rain were recorded in the one day period.
6. By coincidence a further factor was that the people in the Johnstown area had little idea of the impact the storm would have since the paper did not run on that day. Why did the "Johnstown Tribune" not publish a paper for May 30?

Answer: Memorial Day

Memorial Day was a relatively new holiday in 1889, but because of its inception the "Johnstown Tribune" did not run a paper on Thursday, May 30. The Wednesday issue of the paper indicated that the weather on Thursday would be "Threatening weather and rain, with conditions favorable for thunderstorms during the latter part of Thursday and Friday, slightly warmer."
7. Just after 3:00 PM, water in the South Fork Dam was almost cresting, and it burst under the pressure. An estimated 20 million tons were unleashed over the next 40 minutes. The first town to be hit was South Fork itself, but because of its elevation losses were minor. How many people were killed in South Fork?

Answer: 4

The majority of the people in South Fork were able to get to high ground before the dam burst onto their city. Only 4 people were killed as the flood swept away 20-30 houses from the city and continued on downstream, as historian Edwin Hutcheson put it, "with the force of Niagara Falls."
8. As the water rushed down the Little Conemaugh River, it was slightly delayed at the Conemaugh Viaduct, but broke through after only 7 minutes. The second town in the way was Mineral Point, where there were around 30 houses. By the time the flood had passed the town, what was left?

Answer: Virtually nothing

Prior to the South Fork Dam breaking, the most extraordinary thing to happen in Mineral Point was a single murder by a supposed member of the Molly Maguires, according to historian David G. McCullough. After the flood rushed through, there was little evidence that a town had ever existed there at all.

In fact, so much debris had been taken by this point that some reports indicate the flood occasionally stopped itself momentarily when it created a small barrier, but nowhere near strong enough to stop the water. Sixteen people were killed in Mineral Point.
9. The last town to be hit before Johnstown was East Conemaugh. Locomotive engineer John Hess heard a loud rumble in the distance and guessed it was a massive flood. He tied down his whistle to warn residents. While over 50 people in the town died, several more were saved due to his actions. What happened to Hess and his locomotive?

Answer: He survived after the flood picked up his engine and moved it aside

John Hess did not normally work in the East Conemaugh area, but due to the terrible conditions, he was working wherever he was sent. When the flood hit the town, his locomotive was simply tossed to the side and he survived the ordeal. There is no official statistic for the number of lives that Hess saved, but on the 100th anniversary of the flood in 1989, 106-year old Elsie Frum told a story of how her family from East Conemaugh survived the flood when her father heard the whistle from Hess' train. Elsie Frum died at 108 in 1991, and was survived by 3 children, 8 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great-grandchildren at the time.
10. Many Johnstown residents died because the city was caught by surprise by the flood. However, nothing could be done to save the city itself, since the flood entered the city going as fast as 40 miles per hour and 40 feet tall. What was the total property damage in the entire area following the flood?

Answer: $17,000,000

Johnstown was more or less wiped out by the immense amount of water. According to the Johnstown Flood Museum website, "four square miles of downtown Johnstown were completely destroyed." To give an idea of how much water hit the city, the website compares it to Niagara Falls: "about the same amount of water... goes over Niagara Falls in 36 minutes." Adjusting for inflation, the 2008 value for the property damage equaled over $434 million.
11. Just over 2,200 people were killed in the flood, but it was impossible to find all of the bodies. The flood washed many bodies downstream to where the Conemaugh River meets with the Kiskiminetas River, which is a tributary to the Allegheny River, which itself is a tributary to the Ohio River. How far away was the farthest body found from Johnstown?

Answer: Cincinnati, OH (roughly 600 miles)

Roughly 600 miles downstream from Johnstown, a body from the Johnstown Flood was found in Cincinnati, OH, located on the Ohio River. They were found around June 28, nearly a month after the flood hit Johnstown. A June 28 edition of the "Roanoke Beacon" was found addressing the topic: "Two bodies, a man and a woman, supposed to be victims of the Johnstown flood, were found in the river near Cincinnati. There was nothing by which they could be identified."

The first day that no bodies were found was July 10, though the last would be discovered in 1911 - over 20 years after the flood. Nine hundred victims were never found.
12. A new American humanitarian organization was founded in 1881, and had primarily been used in wartime to treat the wounded. However, its founder, Clara Barton, knew it could also be used in peacetime. The Johnstown Flood became the first opportunity for the group to show its capabilities, and it did by providing food, hospitals, supplies, and hotels. What organization was this?

Answer: American Red Cross

The American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton, gave supplies valued at over $200,000 to the survivors of the Johnstown Flood, and directed around 25,000 people to help. Due to the massive news coverage of the flood, the American Red Cross became a household name. Barton arrived in Johnstown on June 5 and didn't leave until late October, and due to her tireless effort the Johnstown Flood Museum features a display on Barton to celebrate her deeds. Johnstown tried to repay Barton for her actions in 1892 by sending money to the Red Cross to help against the Russian famine.
13. Survivors of the flood looked for some kind of retribution against the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, so lawsuits were brought against the club. What was the end result of the litigation?

Answer: None of the lawsuits were successful

Unfortunately, little could be done in the courts against the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. Several club members did help in the relief effort, especially Andrew Carnegie, who rebuilt the Johnstown library and also donated $10,000, but that aid amounted to little compared to the devastation caused by the flood.

The club itself was little more than a single clubhouse and a broken dam, and it was nearly impossible to prove negligence against individual members of the club. Though members got negative press, they did not have to pay for the damage done.
14. Due to the results of the lawsuits, American lawmakers decided to recognize an English tort law case "Rylands v. Fletcher" to deal with similar cases in the future. What legal doctrine did this case address?

Answer: Strict liability (person is responsible for damage caused by their acts regardless of culpability)

"Rylands v. Fletcher" set up a precedent that a defendant can be held liable even if they are not negligent when he "who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes," which in this case would be the faulty dam had it applied.

More broadly, it applied to strict liability, since Rylands was not directly responsible for the accident in his case (contractors were directly at fault), much like the individual members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. Had this law been adopted before the flood, Johnstown residents might have been able to recover a large amount of damages.
15. Despite the dam being destroyed, more natural floods occurred in later years, and are likely to continue. In 1894, 1907, 1924, 1936, and 1977, major flooding hit the area. The 1936 flood also happened around a major holiday and contributed to the Great Pittsburgh Flood of 1936, which is also known by what name?

Answer: The Great St. Patrick's Day Flood

The location of Johnstown leads it to be a natural sight for floods, even to the point that in 2003, the US Census determined that it was the top city in the United States least likely to attract new residents. Still, the 2000 census put Johnstown's population at nearly 24,000 residents, and companies such as Gamesa and Lockheed Martin moved facilities there in the early 21st century.

While the destruction caused by the Johnstown Flood was massive, its other outcomes, from the integration of the American Red Cross, to making sure those responsible pay for their actions, to efforts made to prevent future flooding does not cause similar damage (taken after the 1936 flood), have all had a positive impact.
Source: Author illiniman14

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
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