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Author says he’s still learning after publishing book about Johnstown’s steel industry

Even though Pat Farabaugh has finished and published his book “Disastrous Floods and the Demise of Steel in Johnstown,” the St. Francis University communications professor is still finding himself learning about those two subjects that have shaped much of the city’s history.

On Tuesday, Farabaugh gave a presentation about his work, including a question-and-answer period, at the Cambria County Library in downtown Johnstown.

And, just like at other events he has held, audience members shared their thoughts about the floods and the decline of the steel industry, specifically the loss of Bethlehem Steel Co.

“I’ve learned so much from people that have shown up for the presentations,” Farabaugh said. “I delivered one at a local historical society, and there were two women there who remembered the 1936 flood. They were in their 90s and they shared vivid memories. So I’ve learned from audience participation a lot.”

His book explores the city’s three major floods: 1889, 1936 and 1977, but also delves into the steel industry, which has been a less common subject among authors, according to Johnstown Area Heritage Association President Richard Burkert.

“There are lots of opportunities to learn about the floods, in particular the 1889 flood, but there are no popular histories of Johnstown’s steel industry,” Burkert said.

“That’s why I encouraged him to complete this and to make it available for the public. It’s the first time you can actually read some sort of analysis on what happened here and why it failed in that critical period from the early-’70s through ’92 when the plant closed.”

“Disastrous Floods and the Demise of Steel in Johnstown,” a publication from The History Press, is available at JAHA’s Heritage Discovery Center, along with through amazon.com, barnes- andnoble.com and arcadiapublishing.com.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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