Johnstown

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Johnstown is a city in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 41 miles (66 km) west-southwest of Altoona, and 70 miles (110 km) east of Pittsburgh. The Conemaugh River forms at Johnstown from its tributaries, the Stonycreek River and the Little Conemaugh.

Panorama of Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Understand[edit]

Like many other Rust Belt cities, Johnstown has fallen on hard times since the decline of the manufacturing industries that once provided the majority of jobs in the region. Certainly not helping matters is the fact that the area was subject to devastating floods for some time, most recently in 1977 (although modern dams and rainwater diversion systems have since been installed to mitigate further flooding). Nonetheless, for American history-minded travelers, Johnstown and the surrounding area offers a number of interesting attractions.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The main highway connecting Johnstown to the Pennsylvania Turnpike is US 219. In addition, there is also State Route 56, which is an expressway from 219 until Walnut Street. From there, it provides a connection to US 22 to the north of Johnstown, which connects to Pittsburgh and Altoona.

By plane[edit]

The local airport is the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport (IATA: JST) [1], located three nautical miles (6 km) northeast of the central business district. However, with just one airline (United Express) serving only one destination (Washington-Dulles, via Altoona) fares are usually quite pricey. A likely cheaper alternative (even factoring in rental car costs and tolls) would be to fly into Pittsburgh International Airport and then make the two-hour drive to Johnstown via I-376 to the PA Turnpike.

By train[edit]

Johnstown Station is an Amtrak railway station located at 47 Walnut Street in Johnstown. The station is currently only served by Amtrak's Pennsylvanian, which operates once daily in each direction. Primary cities served on Amtrak to and from Johnstown include Altoona, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and New York to the east and Greensburg and Pittsburgh to the west. Staffed ticket service is available for both daily departures.

In addition to the Amtrak service, CamTran has two routes that stop at the train station:

  • Route 16 - Prospect
  • Route 18 - Downtown Shuttle.

The primary Camtran transit center is located approximately 1/2 mile to the southeast of the Amtrak railway station. Greyhound buses also stop at the transit center.

Get around[edit]

CamTran [2] operates the local bus service, a fleet of 51 buses on a rural and an urban fixed route system.

See[edit]

  • Johnstown Inclined Plane711 Edgehill Drive Johnstown, PA +1 814 536-1816. The Johnstown Inclined Plane is a 896.5-foot funicular - the steepest vehicular incline in the world. Its 30' cars, which are large enough to hold 60 people, 6 motorcycles, or a vehicle, travel at the steepest grade for cars their size. The observation deck provides an extensive view of the greater Johnstown region.
  • Johnstown Flood National Memorial. — There are two Johnstown Flood-related sites in the area. This park preserves the ruins of the South Fork Dam, part of the old lakebed, and some of the buildings of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. A National Park Service-produced film, nicknamed "Black Friday," is shown at the visitor center
  • Johnstown Flood Museum304 Washington St. Downtown Johnstown +1 814 539-1889. Part of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association. Tells the story of the Great 1889 Johnstown Flood, with small exhibits of photos featuring the other two major floods of 1936 and 1977.
  • Heritage Discovery Center6th and Broad Sts. Johnstown's Cambria City Neighborhood. Part of Johnstown Area Heritage Association. Museum tells story of immigrants life in Johnstown, also features Johnstown Children's Museum, and special Iron and Steel exhibit.
  • The Point Park — Point Park is on Washington Street and formed by the juncture of the Stonycreek River and the Little Conemaugh River. The park offers a location for viewing the confluence of these rivers and the Stone Bridge, the epicenter of so much disaster and mayhem during the flood of 1889. Point Park includes Point Stadium, and is just across the Stonycreek from the Johnstown Incline.
  • Conemaugh Gap — located between Rt. 56 (Haw's Pike) and Rt. 403 (Cramer Pike) just outside of Johnstown. A seven-mile long, 1,350 foot deep gorge that was cut by the Conemaugh River through the Laurel Ridge Mountain. It is known as the deepest gap east of the Mississippi River, though other sources list this gap as being 1,560 feet deep, though just the third deepest in Pennsylvania. The water cutting though the terrain for millennium exposed some of the giant coal seams that made this area prosperous in the 1800s. The overlook is Haw's Pike or Rt. 56. There is a pull-off for the scenic overlook and parking.
  • Flight 93 Memorial6424 Lincoln Highway (Route 30) near Stoystown, PA. Many visitors come to the Flight 93 National Memorial to remember the actions of the passengers and crew and the greater events of September 11, 2001.

Do[edit]

  • Gallitzin State Forest Hike the Bog and Boulder Trail within the state forest. This footpath follows a series of boardwalks around a rare upland bog, which features an array of plants specalized for living in the harsh conditions. Trailhead is on Clear Shade Road east of Windber on PA Route 56.
  • Laurel Ridge State Park. 13,625 acres, including the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail which snakes across the beautiful Laurel Ridge and offers spectacular scenery. Overnight shelters, cross-country skiing, snowmobile trails, hunting and picnicking. Accessible from Route 56 West of Johnstown, and Route 271 South of Johnstown.
  • Blue Knob State Park. Year-round wilderness adventures on 6,128 acres of woodland, 25 miles from Johnstown. Swimming pool, picnic areas, hiking trails, mountain biking, trout fishing, equestrian trails, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, nearby downhill skiing, environmental education programs, wildlife viewing, scenic views.
  • Thunder in the Valley - this annual motorcycle rally is held the fourth weekend in June. While the city serves as the hub of the rally, related events take place throughout the entire region. Live musical entertainment with bands playing rock, oldies, blues, country and jazz. The rally also attracts the participation of many motorcycle manufacturers including Yamaha, Can-Am, Harley-Davidson, Suzuki and Kymco.
  • Annual PolkaFest located in historic Cambria City, Johnstown's Ethnic Neighborhood. Come dance with your sweetheart on the wooden dance floor under the pavilion at Saint Mary's on Power Street. Experience the heritage of Johnstown at this free festival in May-June.

Buy[edit]

  • Gobsmany local eateries throughout town. a true Johnstown dessert tradition.

Eat[edit]

  • Szechuan Chinese Restaurant - 124 Main St. - Incredible Chinese food. Reasonable prices, great atmosphere, incredible attention to customers. The owner, Sam, is a trip.
  • Coney Island Lunch127 Clinton St. Downtown Johnstown. very good hot dogs, also has a Johnstown delicacy called the sundowner

Drink[edit]

  • The Boulevard Grill a full service restaurant, pub, banquet & entertainment facility, located at 165 Southmont Blvd. Johnstown.
  • The Haven a neighborhood bar & restaurant located on the strip at 117 Langhorne Ave. The menu has a wide selection of sandwiches, burgers, wings, salads & more. Wide variety of imported & domestic bottles, nine beers on tap, & a variety of liquor and wine.
  • Ohio Street Lounge Tavern restaurant with a lot of atmosphere, located at 340 Ohio St. Big screen TV - Great food at a good price.
  • Murphy's Tavern an Irish bar and restaurant for the whole family located at 1189 Franklin St. Hamburgers, award-winning chicken wings and relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The dining room is separate from the bar, you can bring the kids. In the bar area, you can enjoy a creamy stout amid Irish flags, photos of immigrants and other Irish-American memorabilia.

Sleep[edit]

  • Comfort Inn
  • Super 8 Motel
  • Holiday Inn Johnstown. Prominently visible in the middle of downtown. Walking distance to all points of interest. Indoor pool with retractable roof. Also they are pet-friendly and allow dogs.


Go next[edit]

  • Pittsburgh is an easy two-hour drive.
  • Altoona is approximately one-hour away and home to the famous Horseshoe Curve.
  • Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site110 Federal Park Road, Gallitzin +1 814 886-6150fax: +1 814 884-0206. Daily except Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents Day. Hours vary seasonally. 28 miles northeast. $4.00, under 16: free. The first railroad to circumvent the Allegheny Mountains - the finishing piece of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. The visitor center offers a movie that is a dramatic interpretation of what it was like to work and travel on the Portage Railroad. Other attractions include Engine House 6 Exhibit Shelter and The Lemon House, restored to its 1840s appearance.
  • Fort Necessity National Battlefield (11 miles east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania on U.S. Highway 40). The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War. This war was a clash of British, French and American Indian cultures. It ended with the removal of French power from North America. The Fort Necessity/National Road Interpretive and Education Center features exhibits that immerse visitors in the sites and sounds of 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania.
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