About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file for "Johnstown Flood National Memorial" and other sources on the Johnstown flood. It was written by Fay Metcalf, education consultant, and edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on the rise of American industrialization and the Gilded Age or on understanding the relationship of technology and the environment.
Time period: Late 19th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To analyze the reasons people shrug off the potential for disasters such as the Johnstown flood.
2) To outline the circumstances that caused the flood and to explain how it could have been prevented.
3) To use maps and photographs as well as the written record to analyze a historical event.
4) To describe humanitarian responses to such disasters.
5) To research local history to see if any disasters have occurred in their region.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) one map depicting the path of the flood;
2) three readings about why the flood occurred, the destruction it caused, and the inclined plane railway built after the flood as a potential lifesaving mechanism;
3) six photos of the aftermath of the flood.
Visiting the site
Johnstown Flood National Memorial, administered by the National Park Service, is located about 10 miles northeast of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, along U.S. 219 and PA 869 at the South Fork Dam site. The park contains nearly 165 acres and preserves the remains of the South Fork Dam and portions of the former Lake
Conemaugh bed. For more information, contact the Superintendent, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, 733 Lake Road, South Fork, PA 15956, or visit the park's Web site.