Johnstown Trip

On July 24, 2016, Dad and I visited the museum commemorating the Great Flood of 1889 which killed 2,209 people. Johnstown then was a coal, steel, and railroad town of 30,000 people, many immigrants from either Wales or Germany. It is about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, among the western ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. I only took one flood-related photo, near the lower entrance to the incline railway, maybe 25 feet above street level. When the floodwaters from a failed dam hit the city, the force was said to have been comparable to the Mississippi River. The destruction of the city and people portrayed by the museum is hard to watch.

Johnstown-Flood-sign.800-07Beside the flood, Johnstown is also known for its incline railway built just after the flood. We parked nearby, then walked very slowly in hot sun and perhaps 90F, 32C, across this pedestrian bridge to the lower station. As senior citizens, we could ride for nothing. Each car can carry 60 people, or 6 motorcycles, or one car. A single journey takes about ninety minutes. At one time it carried a million people a year, mostly commuting from homes above to industry below.Johnstown-Incline-Railway.800-11David-and-Edwin-at-Johnstown-Incline-Railway.800-05David-and-Edwin-on-Johnstown-Incline-Railway.800-00We know how much power it takes to do all that lifting.power-Johnstown-Incline-Railway.800-55So we were glad to find some excellent refreshment at the

Prognostication for November

(I added race results notes on 11/29/2012 to the bottom of this article.)

Borrowed from campaign documents:

No, not that race. This is the 103rd annual Run for the Diamonds nine mile race in Berwick, Pennsylvania, to be held on Thanksgiving morning. In 2008 I ran 1:25:53 (pace 9:32/mile) and in 2010 I ran 1:18:17 (pace 8:42/mile). Like Lynchburg, this race includes some seriously hilly terrain, but unlike Lynchburg, it’s all downhill after the half-way point. Hoping my third attempt might continue my trend. See 2010 writeup.

Update posted 11/29/2012: I finished 21st of 41 men aged 60-64, time 1:24:21, pace 9:25. This was 6 minutes slower than in 2010, but 1 minute faster than in 2008. The 475′ total climb of the Run for the Diamonds nine-miler at Berwick is 64% greater than the 304′ climb of the Virginia Ten-Miler in Lynchburg! QED: yes, it is a tougher race.

Update posted 11/29/2012, being my race report submitted to Dead Runners Society and to Runners Gazette:

The 103rd Run for the Diamonds nine-miler occupied 1,614 finishers on Thanksgiving morning at Berwick, Pennsylvania. The weather was perfect, with bright sunshine, temperatures in the mid-40s, and even atop the ridge not a hint of a breeze. The arrowhead-shaped course starts and finishes downtown, mostly uphill out into the  country and mostly downhill on the way back. says the course climbs 476 feet. The most strenuous part of that climb is packed into the unrelenting third mile up the ravine from Foundryville to Summerhill. During the 2010 race, the steep camber and icy road here had me worried I could slip and slide left into the ditch. I was glad for the guard rail on the right, where it could otherwise be a long slide down into the creek below. But this year the entire course was dry pavement. Before the four-mile mark near the top, three ladies were kept very busy handing out tissues — despite the sunshine, evidently there were a good many runny noses at this point. This race has great community support. In the town, the course was almost entirely lined by cheering residents, but even out in the country there were dozens of community gatherings of spectators. I was five hours drive from home, but somebody with a roster at mile six cheered for me by my name and hometown. I heard my name called as I crossed the finish line too. Winners included Derek Nakluski from Kitchener, Ontario, 45:51, pace 5:06, and Karaleigh Millhouse from State College, PA, 52:58, pace 5:54. As a solid middle-of-the-packer in my age group, and with a two-hour drive to Thanksgiving dinner, I did not stay to witness the awards presentation, but 22 diamond rings and pendants were due to be awarded as well as many other prizes. The two $500 prizes for new course records would have gone unclaimed this year. Those records remain with Peter Pfitzinger, 1980, 43:20.9, and Heidi Peoples, 2009, 50:35.

Addendum provided to Runners Gazette:

The finishers were 41% men and 59% women. Their individual paces averaged 8:37 and 9:51 respectively.
The first man with an 8:37 pace took 547th place of 949. The first woman with a 9:51 pace took 381st place of 665.
About 24% of finishers listed Berwick or Bloomsburg as their hometown, and 90% listed Pennsylvania as home state. 10% of the finishers were out-of-staters, travelling from as far away as Alaska, California, and Florida, with larger contingents from New York (34), New Jersey and Ontario (13 each), North Carolina (12), and Virginia (11). The Canadians could have had a five-hour drive to Berwick — but they were rewarded by hearing Edwin Livsey’s annual clarinet performance of both the Canadian and American national anthems at the starting line.


On July 6th, Tim introduced Owen to the craft brewing industry:

The bridge from Bethany Beach to Rehoboth, Delaware:

One of the last of this year’s the stargazer lilies, last weekend at home:

Rose of Sharon this morning:

Old railroad station at The Plains, Virginia, July 14th:

Connellsville B&O Station June 22nd:

101st Run for the Diamonds, 9 miles

See Times Leader photo by Fred Adams, article on Berwick race 11/25/2010

This Thanksgiving morning race is about 100 miles north of Harrisburg, reached for me by interstate highways then a final 15-mile country road over a mountain.

There were almost 2,000 finishers last year, so perhaps the weather accounts for there being only 1,566 finishers this day. From hours before the start at 10:30am, snow fell steadily until my final mile, with the temperature probably about 34 and no wind. The road surface was either wet (with puddles on the road in the town) or slushy and a bit slippery out in the country. The road camber seemed quite severe in places, where I thought I had to choose between a possible slide into the ditch on one side or under a guard rail and down the hill on the other.

The third mile was clearly to be the steepest part of the 4 1/2 mile climb in the first half of the race (300 feet in that one mile!), but other than concern about slipping, it was not has hard as I had remembered from my first time here two years ago. I knew I was in better shape this time, and good enough shape to hope to break a 9-minute pace. All my miles were between 8:18 and 8:36 except for the slow miles 3 and 4 and an 8-minute mile 6.  Clearly I should have pushed a bit harder through the latter half of the race. I had dressed warmly, fearing hypothermia on the potentially wind-swept and drenching open farmland at the peak, but I never felt overheated. My heels were soaked by the first milepost, but neither toes nor calves were drenched until the final two miles.

The winners were Jon Phillips, Brooklyn NY, 45:25, pace 5:04, and Heidi People, Scranton Pa, 53:52, pace 6:00. Rick Platt, tireless race organizer of many years in Williamsburg Va, was the first man over 60, 1:01:21, pace 6:49. First woman over 60 was Barbara Zeske, Hanover Twp, Pa, 1:17:20, pace 8:36

The results show me as 12th of the 40 men aged 60-64, a time of 1:18:17, and a pace of 8:42 per mile.

Noted in the days before the race:Looking forward to my second attempt on this famous Thanksgiving morning race at Berwick, a small town on the banks of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania. Prizes for the winners are real diamonds, but I won’t get anywhere close to any of those. The course runs north out of town towards the ridge, quite steeply at times, climbing for about four miles. On a chilly day, I’m sure the winds could be fierce on the exposed hills but they were mild on Thanksgiving morning 2008. There can be interesting views across farmland to mountains in every direction, but none I recall of the Susquehanna. It’s quite a competitive race. Last year there were 1,987 finishers, and the first man over 60 ran a pace of just under 7 minutes per mile. I’ll be hoping to do it in just under 9 minutes per mile.

Click to enlarge a picture; hover over middle edges for < and > arrows.