CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Tuesday, May 31, marked the 133rd anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889 — a disaster that took the lives of 2,209 people.

On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam failed after significant rainfall combined with a reduced spillway capacity. The failure sent 20 million tons, or 3.6 billion gallons, of water hurtling toward Johnstown. At 4:07 p.m., the floodwaters hit Johnstown, destroying everything in its path.

Park Rangers laid wreaths on the North and South Abutments on the remains of the South Fork Dam at exactly 4:07 p.m. in commemoration.

Every year on the anniversary, there are 2,209 luminaries put together by students from Forest Hills Elementary School that are lit to honor the flood victims. They are lined along the North and South Abutments and around the Visitors Center, and each bag contains the name of a flood victim. They will be lit from 7 to 10 p.m.

A list of the Johnstown Flood victims can be found here.

“The flood killed 2,209 people, but it brought the nation and the world together to aid the Johnstown sufferers,” the National Park Service wrote online. “The story of the Johnstown Flood reminds us all that we must leave nothing undone for the preservation and protection of our brother men.”

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For more information about the Johnstown Flood, visit or the Johnstown Flood National Memorial’s Facebook page.