Park Service to commemorate Johnstown Flood anniversary

SOUTH FORK -?Johnstown Flood National Memorial announces commemorative activities for the 125th anniversary of the flood.

“We want to honor those who perished in the flood and the survivors. We hope to share the park stories and help visitors understand the importance of this day to Johnstown and our nation’s history,” said park superintendent Jeff Reinbold.

To encourage visitors to participate in planned activities and to commemorate the 125th anniversary, all entrance fees will be waived to the Johnstown Flood National Memorial on Saturday.

Special 125th anniversary activities will include a Luminaria Ceremony with the lighting of 2,209 candles. The luminaries were assembled by more than 1,000 students from Forest Hills Elementary School. Each luminaria will bear the name of the one of the flood victims.

The luminaria will be placed on the ruins of the dam and on paths leading to the Park Visitor Center. All 2,209 candles will be lit by staff and volunteers at dusk.

Other commemorative activities include the showing of the film “Black Friday,” shown hourly in the visitor center theater from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m., as well as the display and ringing of a historic church bell that survived the flood, a temporary exhibit on how the flood has been commemorated over the last 125 years, historical vignettes based on the four owners of the South Fork Dam presented by park rangers at an outdoor stage overlooking the dam abutment and guided tours of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Clubhouse.

The historic bell will be rung at 3:10 p.m., signifying the time when the South Fork Dam broke. Many members of the Mineral Point church will be on hand to assist in ringing the bell.

Newly installed at the Johnstown Flood National Memorial, a special exhibit that explores the myriad ways the Johnstown Flood has been memorialized both for profit and for healing. In the days and weeks immediately after the flood, post cards, photos, newspaper articles and books, many of which sensationalized the horrors of the flood, were quickly published.

And in the many decades since the flood, a variety of souvenir items and dozens of books and articles have been produced that contribute to the scholarly understanding of the causes of the flood and honor the victims.

Items featured in the exhibit include several items from the centennial commemoration of the flood in 1989. The Johnstown Flood National Memorial visitor center opened to the public that year and the slogan “Triumph of the American Spirit” created with the hopes of leveraging an economic turn-around for region that by 1989 had become financially distressed.

Special commemorative articles from a 1904 edition of Woman’s Home Companion magazine, that coincides with the 15th anniversary of the flood and a 1939 article from the New York Times magazine marking the 50th anniversary will also be included.

Items including a commemorative silver spoon made by the Larkin company of Johnstown and produced in 1890 will be on display, as well as a musical score produced by Alberto Rivieri.

To commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the Flood, the National Park Service has commissioned artist Michael Hoeweller to create a postal cancellation stamp to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Johnstown Flood.

The cancellation stamp will be available from a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the South Fork post office. The cancellation stamp will be available after May 31 by sending a postcard or envelope with first-class postage affixed to the South Fork Post Office.

Many activities are scheduled throughout the day.?For a complete listing, visit For more information on additional 125th anniversary commemorative activities in and around Johnstown, visit

This website is maintained by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.