In 1870, James Morley, head of transportation for the Cambria Iron Company, purchased the now-famous canine in Philadelphia. The dog was cast by J.W. Fiske in the late 1800s, and served as a lawn ornament at the Morley home at the corners of Main and Walnut Streets in downtown Johnstown.
When the wave of flood water hit downtown Johnstown on May 31, 1889, Mr. Morley’s dog was swept away in the current and carried, along with various other debris, to the Old Stone Bridge. The statue made up part of the flood-formed dam at the stone bridge and was returned to the Morley family some time later.
In 1903, James Morley’s son moved the dog to his home on Bedford Street. Once that residence was sold, the dog was moved to the home of W.E. Matthews on Palliser Street in Southmont. Mrs. George Kline, James Morley’s daughter, wished to donate the dog to the city.
In 1944, he was officially donated as a gift from the Morley, Kline, and Matthews families, and was placed on a concrete slab in front of Kline’s store at the corner of Main and Market Street. The dog was often damaged by vandals, and in the following years he received a new set of ears and several coats of paint. The repairs involved a process known as lead-burning, a technique similar to soldering. The dog was filled with concrete and reinforced with steel rods, then coated with fiberglass “skin” to protect him from the weather. Morley’s dog returned to his place in the park before Kline’s Store in November of 1973.
In 1976, Morley’s Dog moved temporarily to Central Park, where Universal Studios filmed scenes of the Paul Newman classic “Slap Shot.” Newman informed his co-star, Lindsay Crouse, that the dog had saved someone’s life in a flood…that is one of the many myths of Morley’s Dog.
After filming was completed, he returned to his place on the corner of Main and Market Street. In 2012, Morley’s Dog was dedicated as an icon restored at his new home in the Heritage Discovery Center. A replica of Morley’s dog still stands at the corner of Market and Main Street to commemorate this piece of history. There are also other replica Morley’s dogs that are decorated to represent history and local organizations. Some of their locations can be found in this brochure.