Johnstown Flood | A General View of Debris

Johnstown Flood | A General View of Debris

Cranmer C. Langill: 1860-1906

Clarence M. Darling

The Johnstown Flood occurred on Friday, May 31, 1889, after the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam, located on the south fork of the Little Conemaugh River, 14 miles (23 km) upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States. The dam ruptured after several days of extremely heavy rainfall, releasing 14.55 million cubic meters of water. With a volumetric flow rate that temporarily equaled the average flow rate of the Mississippi River,the flood killed 2,208 peopleand accounted for US$17,000,000 (equivalent to about $580,000,000 in 2023) in damage. ⎯ Wikipedia

Editorial Comment for this plate:

SEVERAL weeks ago we spoke of a collection of photographs made by Mr. Langill, of Langill & Darling, in the Conemaugh Valley immediately after the terrible flood which devastated it for miles, and promised to show our readers one of these excellent photographs. We are pleased to fulfil our promise this week, and select for the purpose a general view showing the river filled with debris, as such a view undoubtedly gives a better idea of the terrible disaster than could any one view of a more limited scene.

The collection referred to consists of twenty-five or thirty views, all 8×10 inches in size, and all equal to the one we show in technical excellence and historic interest. They form the undoubted finest collection of photographs which have been made of this much-photographed subject. (p. 407)

The Editorial Table.

JOHNSTOWN PICTURES, BY LANGILL & DARLING.-.. Messrs. Langill & Darlingphotographers, 10 East Fourteenth Street, New York, are certainly nothing if not enterprising. Their pictures of the famous blizzard are well-known to all, and are still enjoying a lively sale. Not inferior to these pictures, in technical excellence and historic interest, are those which they made of the late Washington Centennial in this city. Their greatest success, however, is to be found in their Johnstown pictures.

Mr. Langill started at once, on receipt of the first news of the disaster, and was the first photographer at the scene of the terrible flood. It required indomitable will and great physical endurance to reach the devastated valley so soon after the terrible disaster, but Mr. Langill overcame all difficulties, traversing part of the distance with horse, and even on foot, fording the swollen streams, often at the risk of his life, to obtain this historical set of Johnstown views. They are 8×10 inches in size, and about thirty in number. They show general views of the debris, the principal streets, as they appear immediately after the flood; groups of the stricken inhabitants receiving their rations; dynamite explosions in the debris-in fact, every view of interest in the ruined city.

The entire set is sold for $15, the single copies being priced at 75 cents.

In an early issue of THE PHOTOGRAPHIC TIMES, we shall have a photo-gravure roproduction of one of these interesting historical pictures.  – The Photographic Times, July 5, 1889: (p. 337)

Johnstown Flood | A General View of Debris

Image Dimensions14.8 x 22.1 cm Published as frontis plate for August 16, 1889 issue

Support Dimensions20.5 x 28.6 cm