Science: Dry Johnstown

"To one city in the U.S., the words 'The dam has broken' have for generations meant hell and anguish." So cried a citizen of Johnstown, Pa. after the disastrous 1936 flood. Last week Johnstown celebrated the finishing of a flood-control project which the city hopes has freed it from deluge forever.

Since 1808 Johnstown has had 23 floods. The one which still stands as the worst catastrophe in U.S. history was that of 1889, which killed 2,300 of Johnstown's 30,000 people and all but washed the town from the map. Johnstown lies in a narrow valley at the junction of Stony...

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