On May 31,1889, a wall of rushing water three stories high struck the city of Johnstown Pennsylvania. In its wake most of the town was destroyed and over 2,200 people were killed. In lives lost, the Johnstown PA Flood was the worst civil disaster the United States ever suffered. Every state in the nation sent some type of relief, and the people of sixteen foreign countries, including Russia, Turkey, France, Britain, Australia and Germany sent aid. For Clara Barton, the disaster was the first big test for her newly organized American Red Cross...Mr. Frank argues that the wrong folks got blamed for the disaster. He concludes:
If the reconstruction of the South Fork Dam had been rebuilt to the original specifications and construction, the disaster of May 31, 1889, would never have occurred. Granted; a break like the one in 1862, when the culvert collapsed, could have caused great damage. However, the South Fork Dam as originally designed by Morris and constructed by Morehead and Packer would not have had water pass over it--the worst possible thing that can befall an earth and rock dam--the unquestionable cause of the 1889 Johnstown disaster.It's an interesting article. There's some technical stuff that's a bit over my head, but mostly this article is quite readable for those of us not trained in engineering. Use the title link to read the rest of it.
Of course, David McCullough's book on this disaster is a classic of its kind. I had nightmares for a while after reading it; it's haunting stuff, definitely.
The Johnstown Flood