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David Antonucci <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:47:40 -0800
text/plain (47 lines)
Robert Stewart’s closing comment uses a very general Albert Paine
quote to imply, but fails to prove, that Mark Twain’s Lake Tahoe
chapters in “Roughing It” are not accurate about the descriptions of
his environmental surroundings.

Twain described many physical details of his environmental
surroundings associated with his timber claim and wildfire. His
descriptions have been field verified and scientifically proven to
exist still or to have previously existed at the time of his visit in
1861. It is beyond reasonable credibility to think that Twain, with no
science or natural history background and some eight years later,
conjured up these specific environmental descriptions. It further
strains common logic beyond the breaking point that only by sheer
coincidence all these turned out to be true on the North Shore of Lake
Tahoe. The North Shore is the region he repeatedly stated was the
location of his Tahoe adventure.

Oddly, the veracity of Twain’s descriptions were fully embraced in
2009 by Robert Stewart and Larry Schmidt, a member of Stewart’s team.
Schmidt stated this in his Fall 2009 Nevada Historical Society
Quarterly article, “Locating Mark Twain’s 1861 Timber Camp,” Here,
Schmidt categorically stated, ”For the purpose of further analysis of
Twain’s trip[,] assume the general truth of his statements in the
‘Roughing It’ account of events.” The article was publicly endorsed by
Stewart and became part of the record of the public hearing on the
ill-fated 2011 naming of a cove at Lake Tahoe. When it became
painfully apparent by my proof that this line of thinking would not
yield their desired result of an East Shore timber claim site, Stewart
and his team expediently adopted the reverse position. This is now the
current point of view expressed by Stewart.

As far as inclusion of East Shore timber claim counter factual
scenario in a Nevada historical book, what does it say about a
publisher of historical texts who knowingly presents one side of a
well-known controversy? This is a disputed historical assertion that
was rejected by two Lake Tahoe historical societies and a Federal
agency. We can only expect that historians and Twain scholars will
review all accounts of the timber claim location and use logic and an
evidence-based approach to decide for themselves.

While many MTF readers may tire of this endless debate, understand
that spirited discussion often leads to resolution, even if all
parties do not agree.

David C. Antonucci
Author of Fairest Picture – Mark Twain at Lake Tahoe