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Photo-discovery

June 2024
1min read

My distress was deep and heartfelt when I received my copy of your November issue to see that Charles Guggenheim’s article about my grandfather Louis S. Clarke’s photographs of life on Lake Conemaugh before the Johnstown Flood had been titled “The Scene of the Crime.” No member of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was ever found liable for the tragedy that the courts ruled an “act of God.” The word crime in the title suggests that there was one and destroys the sense of Mr. Guggenheim’s text and my grandfather’s photographs—of which I have more than one hundred—which open a historic window on recreational life enjoyed by the leaders of industry in Pittsburgh in the dynamic era of the 1880s…a lifestyle fully in keeping with the times. Described by Mr. Guggenheim, the photographs should have been allowed to stand by themselves; by people at both the Johnstown Flood Museum and the National Memorial in St. Michael at the site of the dam they have been—correctly—called artistic and historic treasures. I would never have permitted them to be used in any other context, certainly not as “the scene of the crime.”

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