Pennsylvania Roads - PA 403/56

PA 403 and 56/403

All photos were taken southbound, though some look back north.

PA 403 SB and PA 56 EB past a railroad bridge over the Conemaugh River.

Buildings? Who cares about buildings? You should, because these are some of the historic structures that were rebuilt in the aftermath of the great Johnstown Flood of May 31, 1889 when the South Fork Dam gave way to a torrent of water rushing into an unsuspecting valley. The old factory in the last photo is on the east bank of the river, while PA 403/56 are on the west bank.

I don't know how old this truss at Branch St. is; it carries pedestrians to the businesses on the site of the former Cambria Steel Works on the east side of the Conemaugh. Since that area is otherwise accessible by road, this must be how people go to lunch.

This is the historically relevant bridge, the one built in the 19th century that caused much of the damage of the Johnstown flood - and ironically was about the only structure to survive. This northern face was downstream, so the original stone survives.

This is the southern or upstream side, refaced in concrete because it took the brunt of the debris carried by the flood, but it managed to survive unlike other bridges upstream. Because it's so massive, it acted as a dam, keeping the floodwaters on top of Johnstown for several additional hours and allowing broken houses, bridges, and other wooden objects to amass behind it. Sadly, the debris caught on fire, and the burning river killed a lot of the people who were sitting in the debris hoping to be rescued.

The continuation of the railroad from the stone bridge over PA 56/403.

The Johnstown Inclined Plane was built after the great flood to connect people to higher ground - mainly for development, but it also served its purpose during lesser floods. It crosses the Stonycreek River, the benign fork of the Conemaugh River; it's the Little Conemaugh that brought the floodwaters with it.

PA 403 breaks away from PA 56 and heads down Napoleon St. to the Hickory St. Bridge. PA 403 turns right and doesn't get to cross.

Onto PA 56 alone

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