Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Johnstown Area Heritage Association Preserving our heritage, revitalizing our community through the Johnstown Discovery Network.
The Johnstown Area Heritage Association was founded in 1971 as the Johnstown Flood Museum Association, but soon broadened its themes to include immigration to the area around the turn of the century, iron and steel, and the way of life in industrial communities.
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Today JAHA owns and operates four museums: the Heritage Discovery Center, Johnstown Children's Museum, Johnstown Flood Museum, and Wagner-Ritter House & Garden. They are linked geographically and thematically in the Johnstown Discovery Network, which also includes attractions (such as the Inclined Plane) owned by other entities, and historic districts such as the National Historic Districts of Downtown Johnstown and Cambria City.

Mission: JAHA is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the nationally significant historic heritage of the Greater Johnstown Area through its museum facilities, historical collection, and education programs. JAHA operates as a clearinghouse and catalyst for revitalization efforts based on cultural tourism and historic preservation.

04/17/2020
Flood City Music Festival

Flood City Music Festival

With a very heavy heart, we share with you this announcement concerning the 2020 festival.

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The Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) has today announced the cancelation of its signature event, the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, which was to be held Jul. 31-Aug. 1, 2020 at Peoples Natural Gas Park.

“We waited to make this decision as long as we could, hoping for more clarity on when large gatherings like concerts and festivals would be possible – but at this point, no one knows, and we cannot continue in a holding pattern,” said Ron Carnevali, festival chairman. “It is now time to let our patrons, sponsors, volunteers, and artists know that the 2020 festival is canceled. We are deeply disappointed, as we’d done a great deal of planning and were even ready to announce a lineup.”

“As an organization that is committed to the economic vitality of the communities we serve, we too, had hoped the festival would go on as planned,” said Jeff Stopko, president and CEO of AmeriServ Financial, Inc. “However, it’s important to do what’s right to ensure the safety and protection of our residents and visitors. This pandemic has certainly proven that it is not business as usual and we must be patient and do what’s right to be able to move beyond this in a planned and orderly manner. We look forward to once again sponsoring the festival in 2021 and joining with community and JAHA leaders to bring visitors back to our great city.”

In addition to the potential health risks, Carnevali pointed to challenges related to sponsorship support and selling advance tickets.

“Our sponsors are the lifeblood of the event and have been incredibly supportive, but many of them are feeling the financial effects of this crisis,” Carnevali said. “And in the current climate, it would be extremely difficult to sell advance tickets.”

Other major local and regional events that have canceled include Thunder in the Valley (Johnstown), Three Rivers Arts Festival (Pittsburgh), Deutschtown Music Festival (Pittsburgh), Central PA Festival of the Arts (State College), Delfest (Cumberland, MD), and many others.

If the all-clear is given for larger events, JAHA hopes to hold a concert at Peoples Natural Gas Park in September 2020.

“We don’t yet know if this will be possible, but it’s something to hope for,” Carnevali said. “And we have every intention of bringing the festival back in 2021.”

With the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been much sharing of proper safety precautions to stop the disease’s spread, inclu...
04/15/2020

With the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been much sharing of proper safety precautions to stop the disease’s spread, including reminders to wear masks and gloves, wash hands, and maintain “social distancing.” Many of these guidelines have been presented visually with creative or memorable images.

Such visual safety reminders are nothing new to Johnstown, especially workers at Bethlehem Steel. Here are some 1960s era work signs from the Bethlehem Mills reminding workers to be safe.

On this day in 1887, a contract was signed between the firm of Sparks and Evans and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company fo...
04/15/2020

On this day in 1887, a contract was signed between the firm of Sparks and Evans and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for the construction of a seven-arched bridge spanning the Conemaugh River. That bridge, of course, was the Stone Bridge, and it has stood there ever since.

To see the Stone Bridge now--including when it is lit up at night--check out JAHA's bridge cam. https://johnstownstonebridgepa.click2stream.com/

04/14/2020
Path of the Flood Historic Races

Path of the Flood Historic Races

To our Path of the Flood Historic Races community,

I have spent the past month tracking event trends (regionally and nationally), and consulting with race directors, runners, emergency services personnel and our committee to make the best decision possible regarding this year's event. Ultimately, our highest priority - concern for participant, volunteer and support personnel health and safety - coupled with the input we received, has forced us to make the most difficult and heartbreaking decision to cancel the 2020 races.

For those who have already registered, please let us know prior to midnight, April 30, 2020, if you would like a refund and direct all requests through our email at:

[email protected]

If you choose to not have your entry refunded, know that it will automatically become a tax deductible donation on May 1, 2020. We will ensure the proper paperwork documenting your donation is mailed to you.

I cannot thank you enough for your patience and understanding. Know that I have had to compose some very difficult communiques during my life and this one is near the top of the list. We look forward to seeing you in 2021.

Stay healthy, well and sane during these surreal days,

Mark and the best race committee anyone could ever desire

In the midst of the coronavirus and the need for social distancing, one of the greatest sacrifices for many has been not...
04/13/2020

In the midst of the coronavirus and the need for social distancing, one of the greatest sacrifices for many has been not seeing family. Johnstown is a community steeped in family, ethnic and cultural traditions and gatherings.

Yet in the face of all this, people are still finding a way to get together. Whether communicating online, sending letters, or creating entirely new traditions, people are connecting with their loved ones in this moment of social distancing.

So, how did you celebrate Easter this year? Passover? Birthdays and anniversaries? Let us know below!

More vintage postcards from our archive.
04/13/2020

More vintage postcards from our archive.

Happy Easter, everyone! Here are more vintage landmark postcards to enjoy.
04/12/2020

Happy Easter, everyone! Here are more vintage landmark postcards to enjoy.

Newly digitized in our archives: vintage postcards of local landmarks!
04/11/2020

Newly digitized in our archives: vintage postcards of local landmarks!

Passover begins tonight at sundown. In recognition of this observance, we want to highlight our collection of oral histo...
04/08/2020
Special Projects: Jewish Oral Histories - Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Passover begins tonight at sundown. In recognition of this observance, we want to highlight our collection of oral history interviews with members of Johnstown's Jewish community. Conducted with the Cambria County Library and the Beth Sholom Congregation, these interviews provide an insight into the synagogue community and the importance of preserving faith, culture, and heritage.

At this time, our family celebrations and religious and cultural observances have all been impacted by quarantine and social distancing. We must find new ways to preserve and celebrate traditions and stay in touch with friends and families. JAHA wishes you all the best if you are celebrating Passover tonight.

To commemorate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, JAHA is sharing a series of oral history interviews we conducted exploring the past, present, and future of Johnstown’s Jewish community. These interviews, which were made in conjunction with the Cambria County Library and ...

This Day in Johnstown History--April 6, 1983On this day in 1983, thousands of Johnstowners crowded Point Stadium for the...
04/06/2020

This Day in Johnstown History--April 6, 1983

On this day in 1983, thousands of Johnstowners crowded Point Stadium for the filming of All the Right Moves, a football coming-of-age film starring Tom Cruise, Lea Thompson, and Craig T. Nelson. Did you participate in the filming? Do you have any memories of the film being shot in Johnstown?

Our curator, Andrew Lang, was interviewed for this piece on the Spanish flu, and what we can learn from the past.
04/05/2020
Looking at pandemics of the past: How Johnstown dealt with Spanish flu in 20th century

Our curator, Andrew Lang, was interviewed for this piece on the Spanish flu, and what we can learn from the past.

Most people alive today have never lived through a widespread pandemic like the one we are dealing with now, but this region was severely affected back in the beginning of the 1900s by the Spanish flu. Historians say the Spanish flu outbreak was the greatest single pandemic of the 20th century. Now....

This Day in Johnstown History: April 2, 1833On this day in 1833, the township of Richland was formally established. The ...
04/02/2020

This Day in Johnstown History: April 2, 1833

On this day in 1833, the township of Richland was formally established. The area had attracted settlers since the early 19th century for the quality of its land and soil for farming, which is reflected in its name.

During the 19th century, many moved to Richland to establish farms, which grew successful as the coming of the Pennsylvania Canal grew Johnstown and opened up new markets for produce. And as Johnstown became an industrial center during the mid-nineteenth century, Richland also expanded as more merchants and manufacturers moved in to meet the needs of a growing population.

As part of our JAHA at home series, here's a beautiful rumination from Andrew Lang, our curator, on the power of the wri...
04/01/2020
Recording our experiences during the coronavirus crisis - Johnstown Area Heritage Association

As part of our JAHA at home series, here's a beautiful rumination from Andrew Lang, our curator, on the power of the written word and why it's important to write down what we experience during a historic event, day by day as it's happening. So while you're staying safe at home, pick up a pen and notebook. Future generations will be glad you did.

This post is by Andrew Lang, JAHA curator — part of a series to bring JAHA themes to you at home, while our museums are closed. “We are living through unprecedented times.” That is a phrase that can get thrown around ...

A final post for Women’s History Month AND Red Cross Month.Born in 1821 in Maryland, Barton had worked as a teacher and ...
04/01/2020

A final post for Women’s History Month AND Red Cross Month.

Born in 1821 in Maryland, Barton had worked as a teacher and patent office clerk before serving as a nurse during the Civil War. Her ability to collect resources and set up structured medical care saved thousands of lives. After the war, Barton formed the American Red Cross to be a resource for future wars, but also serve in times of humanitarian need or natural crises.

The Johnstown Flood was the first major test for the organization. Arriving in Johnstown on June 5, 1889, she stayed in the city until October, organizing several field hospitals and hotels for the homeless, collecting countless supplies, and administering medical aid with the help of her many volunteers. Through her efforts, the Red Cross fully proved itself as an indispensable resource in providing aid in times of need.

Today, as we confront the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is worth reflecting upon the work of the Red Cross and other humanitarian workers and organizations in providing necessary aid. And it is worth remembering the work of Clara Barton in Johnstown that helped this organization to grow.

When she first arrived in Johnstown, it is generally understood that Clara Barton stayed at the home of John Ludwig, located at 662 Main Street. The house was later owned by Pauline Gordon, a local mortician and one of the first women of color to serve in an elected office in Johnstown. Today JAHA, along with the Clara Barton House and Gardens Inc. group is working to fully restore the house.

03/31/2020
Path of the Flood Historic Races

Path of the Flood Historic Races

POTFHR friends,

The short answer, which isn’t much of one right now, is we are waiting another two weeks to let the situation progress.

We truly do not want to cancel for the sake of how awesome all of you and the experience of our event are, so we are taking deep breaths, remaining calm and carrying on for now.

We are working on all sorts of contingencies and will come up with the best plan possible.

Stay well,

Mark and the Committee

We continue Women’s History Month by exploring some of the notable women in Johnstown’s past.Anna Wagner was born in Cam...
03/31/2020

We continue Women’s History Month by exploring some of the notable women in Johnstown’s past.

Anna Wagner was born in Cambria City in 1866, the daughter of George and Francisca Wagner, German immigrants who had come to Johnstown in search of a better life. She was one of 13 children born to the couple, only 7 of whom survived to adulthood. As a young girl, she helped her mother take care of the family and their house at 418 Broad Street. In 1897, she moved out when she married Joseph Ritter, with whom she had three children--Mary, Joseph, and Louis--before her husband passed away in 1903. Left a widow with three young children, Anna decided to move back in with her parents where she kept house and worked as a cleaning woman in the community.

She ended up staying at 418 Broad Street for the rest of her life, passing away in 1968 at the age of 102. After this, her son Louis lived there until 1990, when the Wagner-Ritter House was given to the Johnstown Area Heritage Association by the family’s heirs.

Anna saw an unbelievable amount of change and history. She was born at the end of the Civil War and passed away just before men walked on the moon. In her lifetime the telephone, electric lightbulb, radio, and television became a part of everyday life. She lived through five American wars, twenty American presidencies, the 1889 and 1936 Johnstown Floods, and countless more. And almost all through the same house in the same community, one that changed over time but was a common element of her and her family’s life.

Our Women’s History Month posts continue! On July 17, 1929, famed aviator Amelia Earhart flew into Johnstown as part of ...
03/29/2020

Our Women’s History Month posts continue!

On July 17, 1929, famed aviator Amelia Earhart flew into Johnstown as part of the festivities for the opening of the Westmont Municipal Airport. After landing her plane at the airport, Earhart attended a reception at Sunnehanna Country Club, which bordered the airport.

Earhart’s visit was the year after she became the first woman to participate in a transatlantic flight (from France to England), but still three years before her solo transatlantic flight in 1932 that made her an international celebrity. Earhart continued to fly until 1937, when her plane disappeared during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

Rare film footage of Earhart at the Sunnehanna Country Club can be viewed here: https://www.jaha.org/about-jaha/archives-research/special-projects/special-features/ And be sure to explore our website for other historical content!

Our museums are currently closed, but we’re working to continue bringing history to you! This Day in Johnstown History: ...
03/27/2020

Our museums are currently closed, but we’re working to continue bringing history to you!

This Day in Johnstown History: March 27, 1878

The first known telephone conversation in Johnstown was transmitted over a private line between the Woodvale Woolen Mills and the Wood, Morrell and Company Store (later the Penn Traffic Store), both of which were owned at the time by the Cambria Iron Company.

Like so many businesses and public sites, JAHA museums are closed to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, ...
03/27/2020
JAHA at home - sharing our resources while the museums are closed - Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Like so many businesses and public sites, JAHA museums are closed to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, JAHA still has plenty to share with you -- like online curricula exploring our museums' themes; a collection of newly-digitized, spectacular images of the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club (like the one below); and fascinating photography, documents, and oral histories from our archives and collections.

For those of you self-isolating or attending school from home, come explore what we have to offer! Our latest blog post has complete details and links.

Like so many businesses and public sites, we are currently closed to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. But even though our doors are closed, we still have plenty to share with you. There are many materials online through our ...

On March 26, 1804, Cambria County was formally established, created from parts of neighboring Huntington, Somerset, and ...
03/26/2020

On March 26, 1804, Cambria County was formally established, created from parts of neighboring Huntington, Somerset, and Bedford Counties in response to a growing number of settlers in the area. Joseph Johns had laid out a plot for Johnstown, then called “Old Conemaugh Town,” in 1800, and hoped that it would be chosen as the seat of the new county (a distinction that was ultimately awarded to Ebensburg). Learn more about Johnstown’s early history by exploring some of our online educational materials: https://www.jaha.org/edu/index.html

Now is a great time for parents, teachers and kids to explore the online education section of our website! Explore the 1...
03/25/2020
Teachers Guide Introduction - Education - Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Now is a great time for parents, teachers and kids to explore the online education section of our website! Explore the 1889 flood and immigration to this region in curricula that cover a wide range of subjects -- geography, social studies, civics, language arts and more.

Local history may be the most under-rated subject in the curriculum for getting students enthused! Most people probably admit that local and state history are important for students to learn. The recent Pennsylvania History Standards mandate much more of it than in the past. But most haven't realize...

Something amazing to report -- the first results of the collaboration with the Pitt-Johnstown Multimedia & Digital Cultu...
03/23/2020
Louis Semple Clarke Collection | Historic Pittsburgh

Something amazing to report -- the first results of the collaboration with the Pitt-Johnstown Multimedia & Digital Culture Department and Historic Pittsburgh are now accessible through HP's website! Louis Semple Clarke was a talented amateur photographer who was a member of the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club. His images portray an intimate view of daily life and pastimes at the club, and are absolutely spectacular. Browse them at the link below.

The online collection contains images dating from the mid-to-late 1880s that showcase American automotive inventor and entrepreneur Louis Semple Clarke’s hobby of photographing the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club’s “pleasure lake,” of which Clarke was a member. This lake was created by t...

Address

201 6th Ave
Johnstown, PA
15906

General information

In addition to our museums, JAHA offers an ambitious schedule of special events (both produced by JAHA and rental events). These include the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival; Johnstown Film Festival; a wide range of festivals, workshops, special events and cultural programming for children and adults.For museum rental info, call 814-539-1889 x307; for current events, see "events" on this Page or at http://www.jaha.org/NewsSpecialEvents.html.

Opening Hours

Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(814) 539-1889

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Preserving our heritage, revitalizing our community

The Johnstown Area Heritage Association is a non-profit, membership-based organization that preserves and presents Johnstown’s nationally significant stories to the nation. To do that, we provide high-quality educational, cultural and recreational experiences in the area’s unique historic settings through a linked system of attractions and historic districts known as the Johnstown Discovery Network.

We operate the Johnstown Flood Museum and the Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center. We opened the Wagner-Ritter House and Garden in 2006, the Johnstown Children’s Museum in 2009, and Peoples Natural Gas Park in 2012. Other major JAHA programs include the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, as well as a variety of additional cultural programming and special events scheduled throughout the year. In this way, we enhance the quality of life for those who live in and around Johnstown, bring positive national attention and visitors to our area, and contribute to the region’s economic development through heritage tourism.

In addition, JAHA is involved in a variety of community projects related to historic research, preservation, and community revitalization, which include but are not limited to the rehabilitation of the Johnstown Train Station and Blacksmith Shop. We maintain an extensive archive of photographs, documents and objects that are significant to the history of this area.

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On Saturday, April 25th at 10:00 a.m. the Friends of the Johnstown Flood National Memorial will be conducting a headstone cleaning at the Unknown Plot at Grandview Cemetery. To volunteer, e-mail [email protected] or call 814-244-0899.
When is the Jolly Trolly?
Are you doing the Jolly Trolley this year? My kids keep asking if Bob and Clyde are coming back.
I remember going to the flood museum on field trips with my school when I was younger. I went again as an adult recently and it wasn't what I remember. I remember there being an upstairs floor that looked over the rest and there where lines on the walls to tell how high the floods were and a life-sized replica of a person dangling over the side. Is there something like that somewhere in Johnstown or is my memory playing tricks on me?
Anyone what up with the ramp at the Heritage Discovery Center? I was going to to Last Friday Last Night and it was blocked off with a sign that said closed for repairs and covered in snow
Some of the area's rail heritage. CSX at Gautier Steel.
Looking like great Fall weather Friday and Saturday night. Reserve a time or just show up and we'll get you on a tour for more tales we haven't yet told! It's Johnstown History like you haven't heard before. https://www.facebook.com/events/451286042047507/
We enjoyed the Slavic festival!
We enjoyed the Slavic festival!