In the year 1889, the failure of the dam that held back Lake Conemaugh was perhaps the worst man made disaster in the nation’s history. The resulting flood, forever known as the Johnstown Flood, claimed nearly 2,200 lives. Clara Barton rose to prominence by leading much of the relief effort under the newly developed American Red Cross.
As owners of the failed dam and much of the land around the lake, the ownership roster of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club included some of the most influential and wealthy men in America. Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, Samuel Rea, Andrew Mellon and Philander Chase Knox were among the fifty or so founding members.
Today, the site of the dam (the remnants of which are still clearly visible), the main lodge of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club, as well as some of the cottages are owned and maintained by the National Park Service. The main lodge and cottages are located in the village of St. Michael, which has developed around them. Standing on the porch of the main lodge, it is nearly impossible to envision the lake which once stood at the base of its front steps.