Sheet Music Published by The S. Brainard's Sons Co., 1889
The Avalanche of Death
The Johnstown Horror
Words by David Fletcher Hunton. Music by John T. Hiler
When that lake at Conemaugh,
Burst its banks of mud and straw,
And came thund’ring down the valley in its wrath;
How the people held their breath
When that avalanche of death
Crush’d out every town and hamlet in its path.
O, what sorrow and despair,
Filled the hearts of thousands there,
When they saw their homes swept down the mountain side;
How they trembled when they saw
In maelstrom’s deadly maw
Men and women struggling vainly in the tide.
Oh those strain’d and tearful eyes!
O, those frenzied, pleading cries!
How they battled there in vain to reach the shore.
O’ the faces pale with fright
That were sinking out of sight!
O’ the pray’rs from lips that never pray’d before.
When that juggernaut of death.
Leap’t with unabated breath,
Down the valley of that rapid mountain stream;
How it tossed and tore in shreds
Blocks of buildings, stores and sheds
And o’er all that desolation reigned supreme.
How those mills and churches grand,
Crashed like eggshells in the hand,
And were thrown like chaff and straw into the flow;
‘Till the gath’ring shades of night,
O’er that weird and ghastly sight
Closed in slowly on that awful scenes of woe.
Oh! that carnival of flame.
When those helpless victims came,
Clinging fast to floating wrecks upon the wave;
O’ the thousands that were lost
In that midnight holocaust.
Where no human hand could rescue, none could save.
O’ that mother’s wild despair
On the burning wreckage there,
How she strove to save her darling at the breast,
But the red flames at the piers
All unmoved by woman’s tears
Caught and flung them down to perish with the rest.
Yet that desolated town,
By the deluge trampled down,
Will not stop to brood in silence o’er her woe;
For beneath her mud and dust
There are seeds of hope and trust,
Which were planted there a hundred years ago.
There are signs in yonder skies
That this mountain queen will rise
Phoenix like, above the ashes of defeat;
That her desolate domain,
Will yet bud and bloom again,
And her triumph will be certain and complete.