Johnstown Discovery Network
Johnstown Discovery Network and area attractions
Johnstown Flood Museum
Heritage Discovery Center
Johnstown Children's Museum
Wagner-Ritter House & Garden
Special Events & News
Museum Lesson Plans
Walking Tours
A Walking Tour of Cambria City
A Walking Tour of Downtown Johnstown
A Walking Tour of Historic Westmont
Wayfinding & Accommodations
Directions & Maps
Touring Routes
Accommodations
JAHA Info
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About JAHA
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Links of Interest

This section of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association's Web site is designed to help you get the most out of your visit to us. We hope the resources below will enhance your visit to the Johnstown Flood Museum, Heritage Discovery Center and the entire area. We look forward to welcoming you!

Johnstown Discovery Network and area attractions
The Johnstown area has a lot to offer visitors! In addition to the Johnstown Discovery Network, a variety of heritage attractions await. Please visit these attractions' websites for up-to-date information about hours, ticket prices, driving directions and more. 

 

The Johnstown Discovery Network -- Discover the stories that changed America forever.

The stories of Johnstown -- immigration, the 1889 flood, the steel industry and more -- shaped the history of America as it became a modern industrial nation. Today, the Johnstown Discovery Network brings this rich heritage to life through a linked system of attractions and historic districts within about a mile of downtown Johnstown. It includes attractions owned and operated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, such as the Johnstown Flood Museum, Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center, and Wagner-Ritter House & Garden, as well as the new Johnstown Children's Museum, which opened in June 2009.

Other historic districts and attractions in the Johnstown Discovery Network include:



The National Historic District of Downtown Johnstown -- Downtown Johnstown is one of several National Historic Districts in the area. Although the majority of buildings were constructed between 1890 and 1930, there are several flood-surviving structures still standing -- including Alma Hall, a typical 19th-century building that sheltered 264 people the night of the flood. The walking tour on this website starts at the Johnstown Flood Museum and focuses on sites relevant to the flood. A booklet version of the tour includes historic photographs of each of the sites as they appeared immediately following the flood, and much more information about each of them. Click here to purchase the booklet online.

The Inclined Plane -- The Inclined Plane is the steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world. It was built in 1890 as a direct result of the 1889 Johnstown flood so workers could live in the new suburb of Westmont, safe from floods and away from industry pollution. Today, the Incline is one of Johnstown's most beloved landmarks, and runs every 15 minutes carrying passengers and cars. The 2.4-mile James Wolfe Sculpture Trail winds its way up the hillside underneath the Incline (click here to visit an online gallery of the sculptures.) At the top, visit the visitors center with displays about Johnstown, City View Bar & Grill (year-round) and an ice cream shop (seasonal). Those traveling with children might wish to visit the playground located just beyond the top of the Incline in the historic suburb of Westmont. Grandview Cemetery (see below) is a half-mile walk or drive from the top of the Incline; visitor center or gift shop staff will be happy to direct you. The Incline, which is owned and operated by CamTran, is located within a few blocks of the Johnstown Flood Museum.


The Stone Bridge -- Johnstown's Stone Bridge was only a few years old when it played a tragic role in the 1889 Johnstown Flood. The railroad bridge blocked the flood debris downtown, which caught fire after the water continued downstream. It quickly became an icon for the disaster. Since 2007 the Johnstown Area Heritage Association has been working with a community committee to refurbish the bridge's facade, and to light it with beautiful, programmable LED lights. On Sept. 24, 2011, the Stone Bridge Lighting Project was dedicated, and every night the bridge presents a 20-minute lightshow, followed by a lighting scheme that reflects holidays, special observances or the time of year. It is located adjacent to the Peoples Natural Gas Park (see below) in downtown Johnstown. Click on the hotlink for much more about the bridge and the lights.



  • Peoples Natural Gas Park --- The newest link in the Johnstown Discovery Network! Groundbreaking on the new park took place in May 2011, and the park opened in June 2012. Located across the river from Point Stadium and beside the Cambria Iron National Historic Landmark, the park provides a beautiful view of downtown Johnstown, including the Inclined Plane and the Johnstown Flood Museum. It is the permanent home of the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, the Johnstown Film Festival, and other events; it will also serve as a catalyst for new events. Click here for much more about the park.


  • Grandview Cemetery -- Located at 801 Millcreek Road, this historic cemetery contains the graves of many flood victims, including more than 750 buried in the Plot of the Unknown. The cemetery is a half-mile drive or walk from the top of the Inclined Plane; visitor center or gift shop staff will direct you. (Click here for a downloadable PDF map that shows the location of Grandview Cemetery).


    The National Historic District of Cambria City -- From about 1853 to 1910, thousands of immigrants settled in Cambria City, a neighborhood across the Conemaugh River from the Cambria Iron Works. They established ethnic social clubs, built ethnic churches and created a vibrant heritage that's still celebrated today. The Cambria City neighborhood is where the Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center (pictured) and Wagner-Ritter House & Garden are located, and both museums explore the history of this fascinating neighborhood in depth. Click on the hotlink for a walking tour of the ethnic churches and other historic buildings in Cambria City.


    The Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center -- Located in Cambria City, this former industrial building housed the Tulip Bottling Company. Today the Bottle Works celebrates Johnstown's ethnicities by offering a variety of cultural programming, including exhibits, performances, workshops, cooking classes, films and lectures.


    Art Works in Johnstown -- Located in Cambria City adjacent to the Bottle Works, Art Works celebrates and showcases the vibrant local arts community. Its 18,000 square foot turn-of-the-century industrial building has been renovated under "green" guidelines, the first of its kind in the area. Inside it includes art studios, galleries, classrooms, and performance space.




    In addition to the Johnstown Discovery Network, be sure to visit some or all of the following attractions.

    Historic sites

    Johnstown Flood National Memorial -- Operated by the National Park Service, the Johnstown Flood National Memorial helps tell the story of the 1889 flood by preserving the remains of the ill-fated South Fork Dam and part of the former Lake Conemaugh bed. The memorial also includes the surviving portion of the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club's clubhouse and the restored house of Elias Unger, the club's president and manager. Located in St. Michael, about 15 miles north of Johnstown. (Click here for a PDF map showing this attraction's location.)


    Flight 93 National Memorial -- On September 11, 2001, shortly after terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon, the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 fought a battle in the sky over Pennsylvania. They thwarted a planned attack on our nation's capital, saving countless numbers of lives, but sacrificed their own in a field near Shanksville. The story of Flight 93 - a story of hope, courage and cooperation - is of national historic significance and must be honored, shared and preserved for generations to come. The National Park Service dedicated the first phase of the permanent memorial on Sept. 11, 2011. Hours vary with the season -- please check the website before planning your trip. Located in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, about a half-hour drive from Johnstown.

    Roxbury Bandshell -- This Depression-era bandshell in Johnstown's Roxbury Park is currently being restored. A dedicated group of citizens is also working to program the bandshell, including a free concert series during summer. Visit the bandshell website for more information, and a calendar of events.


    Mount Assisi Sunken Gardens -- Located on Immergrun, the summer estate of Bethlehem Steel magnate Charles Schwab, these beautiful gardens are maintained by the Franciscan Friars Monastery. The Italian formal garden features a waterfall, reflecting pools, religious shrines, classical sculpture, rock gardens, a spectacular view of the Schwab mansion and more. The gardens are open from sunrise to sunset (the mansion is occupied by the Franciscans and is not open to the public). Located 30 miles from Johnstown in Loretto, across the street from St. Francis University, the home of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (see below).


    Compass Inn -- Built in 1799, the Compass Inn served as a stagecoach stop from 1820 to 1862. Today it is a museum, featuring the original inn and three reconstructed outbuildings, furnished with period pieces and stagecoaches. The Inn is operated by the Ligonier Valley Historical Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Costumed docents conduct your tour, and there are regularly-scheduled living history weekends and other events. In Laughlintown (near Ligonier), about 22 miles from Johnstown.



    Coal history



    The Quecreek Mine Rescue Memorial - From July 24 - 28, 2002, the catastrophe of nine trapped miners and their ensuing rescue captured the hearts and hopes of millions of people worldwide. Since the successful rescue, tens of thousands of people from around the world have visited the Arnold family farm to view the site where the miners were rescued. Currently, the memorial features a bronze, 7-ft. tall statue of a miner, a visitors' center with artifacts, and the covered shaft through which the miners were rescued. Future plans include a "Monument to Life" statue and improvements to the visitors' center. Located in Somerset, about a half hour's drive south of Johnstown.


    Seldom Seen Coal Mine -- Once a working coal mine, the Seldom Seen offers visitors a unique underground experience. Many of the guides are former coal miners and will share their stories with you. Located about 40 miles north of Johnstown, near Patton.




    Railroad history

    Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site -- This railroad and canal system opened in 1834, overcoming the Allegheny Mountains. For the first time, it became possible to travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in four days by rail, rather than three weeks by wagon. This National Park Service site includes a visitors center, Engine House Interpretive Shelter, and the historic Lemon House Tavern. Don't miss the nearby Staple Bend Tunnel, which was the first railroad tunnel in the U.S. and was constructed almost entirely by hand. Located in Gallitzin, about 35 miles northeast of Johnstown.



    The Railroaders Memorial Museum -- For more than a century Altoona was one of the most important rail facilities in the United States. The Railroaders Memorial Museum celebrates this history with three floors of exhibits, interactive displays and a 27-minute film about railroaders' lives. Nearby is the Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark. Located in Altoona, about 50 miles northeast of Johnstown.



    French & Indian War sites

    Fort Necessity National Battlefield -- The 1754 battle at Fort Necessity was the first major event in the military career of George Washington, and the prelude to the French & Indian War. This National Park Service site has recently undergone a major renovation and upgrade. Located 11 miles east of Uniontown, about 90 minutes from Johnstown.


    Fort Ligonier -- This reconstructed British fort played a key role in the French & Indian War. The 1758 fort includes nine interpreted buildings and a museum that features many works by 18th-century artists, dioramas, a film and much more, allowing visitors an intimate look at frontier life in southwest Pennsylvania. Located in the scenic town of Ligonier, about 25 miles west of Johnstown.



    Fine art

    The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art -- SAMA collects and exhibits American art, and features four facilities in the Johnstown region. In addition to exhibitions drawn from its permanent collection, SAMA offers a broad range of special exhibitions that provide opportunities to view important trends in American art. The main SAMA facility is in Loretto at St. Francis University, which is about 30 miles northeast of Johnstown; in addition, satellite SAMA facilities are in Johnstown (at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown's Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center), Ligonier Valley and Altoona.


    Frank Lloyd Wright houses


    Fallingwater -- Considered a masterpiece of American architecture, Fallingwater is the only house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that is open to the public with its setting, original furnishings, and artwork intact. It was designed in 1935 for the Edgar Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh over the beautiful waterfall of Bear Run, and today it is operated by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Works by Audubon, Tiffany, Diego Rivera, Picasso, Jacques Lipchitz, Richmond Barthe and others are on display. Located on PA Route 381 between the villages of Mill Run and Ohiopyle, about 60 miles southwest of Johnstown. Another Frank Lloyd Wright house, Kentuck Knob, is located nearby; Fallingwater also books tours for this attraction.


    Kentuck Knob -- Kentuck Knob was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the last decade of his career for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan. Constructed of tidewater red cypress, glass, and 800 tons of native sandstone, with a copper roof, the home embodies Wright's principles of organic architecture. Completed in 1956, this deluxe Usonian is just seven miles from Fallingwater and six miles from Route 40, the historic National Road.


    Polymath Park Resort -- The resort features the Duncan House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Balter House, which was designed by a Wright apprentice, as well as a visitor center. Located on more than 100 tranquil and scenic wooded acres, the resort offers overnight stays in either of the houses, as well as public and private tours. A spa, gift shop, and full slate of special events are also available. In Acme, Pa., about one hour from Johnstown (and 15 minutes from Fallingwater).