Students take trip to Johnstown Flood Museum


Submitted Photo

Four teachers from the Social Studies Department traveled to Johnstown to give students an out of the classroom experience last month.

Addison Shawley, Staff Reporter

On April 21, four teachers from the Social Studies Department took on a trip helping to connect their Central PA history teachings to real life. 

The trip consisted of around 40 students, mostly underclassmen, who visited four historical places in Johnstown. The trip was for a mini-course the teachers are teaching right now and instead of just overloading students with information, they got to experience the history in real life.  History teacher Mr. Matthew Maris planned the trip.

They started the day off with visiting the South Fork Johnstown Flood Museum. The point of visiting the South Fork Dam was to see what was destroyed from it in Johnstown from a flood dating back to 1889 when over 2,209 men, women, and children lost their lives. They also watched a film called Black Friday, which was a very emotional video on how this tragedy happened. 

The next part of the day was spent at the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historical Site. They first got to go inside the Lemon House, which was a fully operational tavern built in the 1830s. They also got to experience how the stationary steam engines pulled canal boats over the mountain. 

Mr. Maris had a great time with his students all day, but one was his favorite. 

I enjoyed it all but I actually had not been to the Allegheny Portage Railroad so that was my favorite for the day,” he said.

The next stop was no other than the World Famous Horseshoe Curve. The students got to see and learn about how the railroads were constructed through the mountains in the 1850s. These railroads were built by Irish immigrants. One student in particular really enjoyed the Horseshoe Curve.

“My favorite thing about the Horseshoe Curve was probably the historical importance and how it represents the changing times of America,” freshman Remi Deitrich said.

The last and final stop was the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum. This museum was one of the most interactive sites the students and teachers visited. There were lots of hands-on activities with everything from model trains to an exhibit on how the Nazi party attempted to blow up the Horseshoe Curve.  

Government teacher Mrs. Allyson Durney also really enjoyed the whole trip. 

“It’s really cool to see examples of PA history right in our backyard. I learned something new at the Allegheny-Portage Railroad,” she said.

The trip was designed to allow students to learn history by actually seeing history rather than just seeing pictures. The teachers felt the trip as a whole was a grand success by visiting sites students may have never experienced without this trip.