The circumstances that led to the establishment of the town of Calamity Falls were to foreshadow the fate that would forever follow. Once the Fellows Creek dam was in place, the town of Johnoson Falls began to thrive. The dam provided both a dependable supply of drinking water, and a ready source of hydro-power for the town's textile mill.

But the dam would prove to be the undoing of Johnoson Falls. Everything that made Johnoson Falls possible and profitable contained the seeds of its eventual destruction. Like most of New York state, the land upon which Johnoson Falls was built had been created by the slow advance and retreat of the ice sheet that covered most of North America during the last ice age. The gentle slope leading up to Johnoson Bluff didn't consist of bedrock. Rather, it was an aggregate collection of whatever the glacier had scooped up to that point: rocks, gravel, sand, and soil. And while it was sturdy enough for most purposes, in most times, it acquired very different characteristics once it was saturated with water and exposed to the vibrations typical of minor earthquakes. Under those circumstances, the otherwise solid land turned into something akin to porridge.