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The Johnstown Flood.— Effect on the Engines at Conemaugh.

By courtesy of Mr. J. T. RICHARDS, Asst. Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad, we are enabled to present herewith, in the accompanying cut, a precise record from surveys of the marvelous way in which the 32 locomotives in and about the Conemaugh round-house were tossed about like corks by the furious current of water. Our engraving is reduced photographically from a plat on a scale of 100 ft. per inch, constructed from actual survey.

A more appalling and almost incredible exhibit of the power of water in rapid motion was probably never made than just at this point. It had to be seen to be appreciated, but we do our best to make it clear in connection with the accompanying engraving.

The engines were mostly of the very heavy Consolidation type; Class I and Class R. Conemaugh being at the foot of the mountain grade; but some of them were of lighter types. The Class I engine weighs 79,400 lbs. on drivers, 12,240 lbs. on truck, total 91,640 lbs. The Class R engines weigh 100,600 lbs. on drivers, 14,025 lbs. on truck, total 114,625 lbs. The tenders weigh about 23.000 lbs. empty, and carry about 33,000 lbs. when loaded.

These tenders were almost universally stripped away from the engines, and carried far away down stream, a large number of them having stopped only in the jam at the Johnstown Bridge, three miles below. The remainder were strewn along the banks down the valley, some with and some without some fragments of trucks under them. One of these tenders chanced to be carried, side up, against a large tree well out toward the edge of the torrent. It was broken through the middle and whipped around the tree in an instant and remained there, high above the ground, when the writer visited the valley three days later. All the tenders which remained attached to their engines or in their vicinity are indicated on our engraving, and it will be observed that there are only two of them, 477 and 1141. The remaining 30 tenders were every one of them swept down stream further than the limits of our map, which shows continuously a stretch of half a mile below the round-house, and including the break, shows nearly a mile.

A tender is a tolerably heavy body to be thus tossed about by, running water, but a locomotive is so much more unlikely a body for such experience that the fate of the tenders is of comparatively minor interest. We may add that the round-house was capable of accommodating 16 engines only, and that consequently some of these engines were standing about the yard in various positions, some above and some below the round-house, precisely where, it is now forever too late to indicate. Locomotives 76 and 1094, however, were at the head of trains of cars which went through the flood without serious injury, the intermediate tracks being likewise filled with cars in a nearly solid mass. It is therefore probable that most of the engines were well up toward where the round-house once stood, as shown on the plan.

Every vestige of, this round-house and connected buildings, wall, foundations, turn-tables, turn-table pit and all, was swept away as completely As if they had never been. The only relic of what had been the round-house and shop was a part of the brick walls of the ash-pit. The turn-table girders were carried a long distance away; precisely how far we did not take the trouble to observe. The locomotives were moved about as follows, measuring for each from the centre of the round-house:

The remaining 9 engines were moved various distances, as shown, but hardly one of them less than 100 ft. Consolidation Locomotive 9, Class I, was, by a curious freak of the flood, thrown out almost to the very edge of it, at the foot of the slope.

The average for the 23 engines given is 1,347 ft. Neglecting the first, two, which we cannot be certain, did not stand at the lower end of the yard, the average is 1,025 ft. or nearly a quarter of a mile, and this in a river bed filled with large boulders, tender trucks, etc., against some of, which the engines usually lodged and (if not carried off again), were instantly buried beneath rocks and stones, so that, when we visited the scene after the flood, many of the, locomotives so marvelously tossed about were completely buried, and few of them had more than their upper parts above the surface of the river bed.

This will seem less incredible by examining our map and noting in what frequent instances one locomotive served to stop another; as, for instance, the group 744, 655, and 289; 655, 192, 1294, and 976; 1197 and 416; 1055 and 477; 1141 and, 1019.

The two last-named engines were curiously interocked, and the battered number-plate of 1019, which was removed in the presence of the writer, was presented to this journal as a relic of the flood. It now ornaments the walls of this office, where it may be inspected by the curious, and where it affords one of the most curious of the minor evidences of the force of the torrent, in this respect. The number-plate is of cast brass, 16½ ins. in diameter, weighing 19½ lbs., and was formerly supported on three 1-in. studs, 4½ ins. long, arranged in an equilateral triangle of 11½ ins., and cast with it. The plate varies from one-quarter to three-eighth in. in thickness. The locomotive, as it finally rested, headed down stream, but it is evident that it originally, headed up stream, and the force of the torrent was such that it forced the flat plate almost evenly back, forcing the studs to project through it, and so forming three distinct projections in the surface of the plate, nearly an inch high and but little over 2 ins, in diameter at the base. It was evidently the pressure of water only which did this because, had it been stories or other solid bodies, the whole plate would have been distorted, which is not the case.

If there be a more curious relic of the flood than this, we do not know of it. It only remains to add that the general situation of Conemaugh with reference to the rest of the valley can be seen by reference to the map in our issue of June 15; and to add that our account of the course of the flood given in that article was incorrect in two important respects.

It will be seen by referring to the map that there were two very exaggerated cases of horse-shoe bends in the valley, one just above the high viaduct which was so completely washed away, and which was replaced by a temporary structure built under direction of Superintendent of Motive Power T. N. ELY, in the marvelously short period of six days, without access to any other timber than such as could be cut in adjacent forests; and the second below Mineral Point, in the point; pierced by the old Allegheny Portage tunnel, illustrated in our issue of June 22. In both of these cases, there was a railroad cut across the neck, and in both cases the bulk of the flood water went directly through these cuts, and not around the bend, although the grade of the upper one was about 70 ft. and of the lower one about half that above the usual water level of the stream.

With this we complete our description of the Johnstown floods, but we may add that we have two or three letters relating to details of it still on hand for publication, for which we have not yet been able to find room. We may add further that Mr. RICHARDS' blue print shows the engine numbered 780 on our drawing without number, and shows the engine numbered 1019 (of which we now have the number-plate) as No. 780. Having assisted in the removal of this number-plate, and there being no other engine in the vicinity with which it could possibly become confused, we have the best of all grounds for disputing and correcting the record, especially as the number 1019 does not appear on the record at all, a fact not wholly disconnected, doubt less, with the circumstance that very shortly after the disaster, before the survey was made, the number-plate of 1019 was on its way to this office by express and there was no other positive method of identifying the engines. With some partial exceptions, all the, engines were so badly battered, by the flood as to be worthless for anything but scrap.


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