On this day: the Johnstown Flood

The aftermath of the Johnstown Flood (Johnstown, Pennsylvania). The Debris above the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge. In History of the Johnstown Flood by Willis Fletcher Johnson, 1889.

The Johnstown Flood, otherwise known as the Great Flood of 1889, occurred in Pennsylvania on the 31st of May, 1889. 2209 people were killed when a dam broke and unleashed 20 million tons of water on the surrounding area.

SchultzSchultz house at Johnstown, PA in 1889, after the Johnstown Flood. Six people inside survived.

The six people who were inside this house all survived. X

Heavy rain hit the area in the days before the flood, and despite attempts to save the dam before it broke, nothing could be done and everybody retreated to wait. The flood began at about 3:10pm.

A house that was almost completely destroyed in the 1889 Johnstown Flood. Most of the house fell to the ground, but one small piece remained standing, soon to be piled underneath more debris.

The wave of water that hit surrounding towns was said to have reached 18 metres (60 feet) in height.


On this day: the St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado

800px-St_Louis_Jefferson-Allen_Damage1896 St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado

On the 27th of May, 1896, a tornado hit St. Louis, Missouri. Part of a larger tornado outbreak in the United States, it killed at least 255 people, but possibly more than 400.

The damage bill was over ten million dollars, which translated to around $2.9 billion a century afterwards.


On this day: the Bukit Ho Swee Fire

Bukit Ho Swee Fire 25th May 1961


Singapore’s most destructive fire occurred on the 25th of May, 1961.



Breaking out in the squatter settlement of Bukit Ho Swee, it killed four, injured eighty-five others, and destroyed over 2800 homes, leaving some 16 000 homeless.

No cause of the fire was ever discovered.

On this day: the opening of the Blackwall Tunnel

The Blackwall Tunnel, which runs under the River Thames in London, was opened by the Prince of Wales on the 22nd of May, 1897.

Section_of_the_Blackwall_Tunnel A photograph showing a framing section of the Blackwall Tunnel being constructed at the Thames Ironworks. 1895.

Under construction in 1895.

Work began on the tunnel in 1892 and construction cost £1.4 M. 800 men were employed and seven deaths were recorded.

A postcard depicting the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel in 1899Blackwall_Tunnel_1899

The tunnel in 1899.

A second tunnel was opened in 1967.

On this day: a prisoner of war

Treatment of prisoners of war in the United States during the Civil War was often harsh, with prisons on both sides overcrowded, and with very few resources available. Food was scarce and thousands of people died.

19 May 1864 This is a cropped version of an image of 20-year-old Pvt. Jackson O. Broshears of the 65th Indiana Infantry taken after his release from the Confederate prison at Belle Isle, Va. He lost nearly 80 pounds


This is Private Jackson O. Broshears of Company D, 65th Indiana Infantry, who fought on the Union side. He was a prisoner for a few months and was starved near to death.

US American Civil War Prisoner of War


The documentation of his case is dated the 19th of May, 1864.