— A look at the individual communities affected by the flood:
George B. Stineman, a Croyle township native and Civil War veteran, built the first house in what is now South Fork Borough.
But Stineman later returned to his father’s farm and his brother, State Sen. J.C. Stineman, moved into the home near the junction of the Little Conemaugh River and South Fork Creek.
Cambria County Historical Society’s 1954 book, “Sesquicentennial, Cambria County,” says George Stineman started a lumber business, expanded into farming and moved to mercantile trade. With his brother and some other investors, Sineman became a founding partner in South Fork Coal & Iron Co. in 1869.
Although coal had been excavated for blacksmithing and other local purposes, mining was not a local industry. Some writers credit the South Fork Coal and Iron founders with opening the area’s coal deposits for shipping.
South Fork Borough was officially incorporated Aug. 3, 1887, from Croyle Township, but the annexation was not without opposition
The Johnstown Tribune in 1906 recalled the debate between borough supporters and township opposition, which played out in The Cambria Freeman, a newspaper of the day. Township leaders opposed to the succession dubbed the borough supporters as “Cut Worms.” Those in favor of borough incorporation, led by George B. Stineman, shot back by calling the township advocates “Grub Worms.”
J.C. Young was the first mayor, which was called a burgess in those days. George B. Stineman was first council president. James McClaren was the first police officer.
Access to the Pennsylvania Railroad main line helped South Fork grow into a bustling community, local businessman John Fabo said.
“It was all about the railroads and the mines,” Fabo said at Fabo’s Garage on Lake Street.
Displaying old photos, newspaper clippings and documents, Fabo recalled South Fork’s booming days in the first half of the 20th century.