Johnstown, Pa. – Several local partners have worked together to produce a map and guide for the Path of the Flood Trail from Ehrenfeld to Johnstown following the route of the infamous Johnstown Flood of 1889, in which 2,209 people died.
The trail is planned to connect the Johnstown Flood National Memorial with the Johnstown Flood Museum, although two gaps remain as described in the brochure.
“This trail is very scenic with a number of nice views over the Little Conemaugh River, but what really makes it unique is the incredibly rich history that’s interpreted on the trail,” said Brad Clemenson of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “As the name certainly indicates, the Johnstown flood is interpreted. But just as exciting, this trail goes through the oldest railroad tunnel in America.”
Staple Bend Tunnel about three miles north of Johnstown was built as part of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal, which operated from the 1830s until the 1850s, when it was made obsolete by the railroad. The Path of the Flood is part of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal Greenway, which is being developed from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.
Partners in developing the trail map include:
- The National Park Service, which operates the Johnstown Flood Memorial and the Allegheny-Portage Railroad National Historic Site, which includes Staple Bend Tunnel as a unit. The Park Service constructed and maintains two miles of the trail to and through the tunnel.
- Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority, which built and maintains four miles of trail from Ehrenfeld to the Park Service’s Staple Bend section.
- Johnstown Area Heritage Association, which operates and maintains the Johnstown Flood Museum as part of the Johnstown Discovery Network.
- Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which is supporting development of this and other Johnstown-area trails as part of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.
The trail brochure was funded through a grant to PEC from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy with funding from the Rivers and Trails Program of the National Park Service.
The brochures are available at the National Park sites, the Flood Museum and Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, the Conservation & Recreation Authority in Ebensburg, and at visitor sites of the Cambria County Visitors Bureau in downtown and at the Inclined Plane.
Planning continues on how to close the two gaps – about two miles from the Flood Memorial to Ehrenfeld and 2/3 of a mile between Staple Bend Tunnel and the Franklin ball field. There is no access from the tunnel to the ball field, where there is about one mile of off-road trail connecting to about three miles of on-streets signage marking the route to Downtown Johnstown.
May 31 will be the 120th anniversary of the flood.