The Johnstown Flood - Study Guide Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

David McCullough
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Chapter 7, "In the valley of death" describes in detail the desolation that is Johnstown on Jun. 1, 1889, and the initial reaction of locals and fellow Americans to the disaster. After a night of hideous sounds, life at dawn is eerily missing everyday noises. Crowds of cold, nearly naked, hungry people, many badly injured, gather in clumps, trying to understand. From first light, survivors emerge, most heading to dry ground at Green Hill, joined by returnees from the hills. Details begin emerging in the panorama of destruction: still-standing buildings look squashed, blasted, or dumped like carcasses; telephone poles, giant chunks of machinery, trees stripped of bark, animals, and countless human corpses are strewn about. The litter of thousands of lives is heaped 20-30 feet high or floats in brown puddles.

The flood and the night that follow have a majestic, Judgment-Day quality, as though "...

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