• Chapter 1, "The sky was red," sketches life in Greater Johnstown, PA, on Memorial Day, May 30, 1889 in the prosperous steel town.
• The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, a private summer resort set on the lake's western shore, is not yet open for the season; the club houses a few employees and some members drawn from Pittsburgh for the holiday.
• Around 8:30 PM, John G. Parke, Jr., the college-educated "resident engineer," supervising repairs and improvements, is surprised that the weather is clearing rather than breaking into one of the sudden "thunder-gusts" common in the mountains.
• Around 11 PM, sheets of rain driving against the clubhouse wake him.
• Originating in Kansas and Nebraska, the storm has generated tornadoes and snow squalls en route to the Allegheny Mountains, and proceeds to drop seven inches of rain at the club overnight, while Pittsburgh, 65 miles to the west, receives under an inch and a...
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