The Destruction of Johnstown

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The Destruction of Johnstown
Other Name(s) Johnstown Flood
Type Exhibition
Park Section Midway
Built 1910
Opened 1910
Closed 1911 (Fire)
Fires July 1911
Frame Wood

The Destruction of Johnstown, mostly known as The Johnstown Flood, was a cyclorama attraction built and opened in 1910 at Olentangy Park and burned down the following summer in the Midway Fire of 1911. It was located in a wood-frame building along or near the Midway with burlap lining[1] north of the Dancing Pavilion and Ye Olde Mill. It was over 100 feet long and extended from the Scenic Coaster, under the tracks of the Loop-the-Loop, to the Circle Swing. The cars of the Loop-the-Loop traveled over the building.[2]


Johnstown Flood was a cyclorama found in many parks depicting the Great Flood of 1889 that devastated Johnstown, Pennsylvania, when the South Fork Dam failed. The attraction had layered, moving canvases showing painted scenes from before, during, and after the disaster while pyrotechnics, electric lighting effects, water/steam effects, and moving 3-dimensional models to create an immersive storytelling experience.

Earlier versions were exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 and New York's Coney Island from 1902-1906. They were called "the finest scenic electric production." At the Pan-American Exposition, the building that housed it was 100 ft. (30.5 m) wide by 140 ft. (42.7 m) long[3][4].

One version of the Johnstown Flood was exhibited at the 1909 Stockholm Exhibition and had an 82-foot-wide stage. It was called "our time's greatest electromechanical spectacle" and "left an indelible, fairytale-like impression." A narrator gave an "over-the-top" description, and a woman connected to the disaster claimed the facts were inaccurate. The attraction was portable and flexible enough to be altered to show other disasters. However, the effects were expensive to produce, and it took 13 employees to run[5].


In July 1911, a fire that began in the Old Mill ride spread to other attractions, destroying five buildings. Manager J.W. Dusenbury said the buildings were uninsured[1].


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Suspect Arson in Destructive Fire at Olentangy Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 17 July 1911. Pg. 1. Retrieved from the Columbus Dispatch Digital Archives.
  2. "Olentangy Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 10 April 1910. Pg. 5.
  3. The Johnstown Flood Show (1902-1905) and The Deluge (1906-1908)
  4. The Johnstown Flood
  5. Johansson, Shelley. "First Person/The Swedish Johnstown flood." 30 July 2011.