How unfortunate that Robert Stewart chooses to use the term “nonsense” to
characterize my research, the good work of the US Reclamation Service, and
the opinion of a professional geologist with the US Geological Survey. The
Lake Tahoe beach where Stewart says Twain camped was formed in the mid-20th
century is the result of human created high-water levels eroding the
shoreline. This was proven again by a recently discovered 1918 land survey
and peer review of scientific conclusions.
In 1918, the Reclamation Service did a detailed 1”=200’ topographic and
bathymetric survey of the shoreline segment where Stewart proposed that
Clemens camped in 1861. The survey showed that no beach existed there in
1918. A peer review by a US Geological Survey geologist confirmed that if
no beach existed there in 1918, no such beach could have existed physically
in 1861. This evidence is incontrovertible and conclusive proof that the
Stewart-proposed campsite is inaccurate. Stewart says that a surveyor
recorded in his 1861 notes that he found a beach in the area, but this is
misleading and physically impossible. The USGS agreed that no littoral
process exists that could have created a beach in 1861, removed it by 1918,
and reestablished exactly the same beach in the early 21st century, when
Stewart “discovered” it.
Stewart’s reliance on history and text from old documents takes advantage
of the vagueness, omissions and exaggeration associated with such
information that allow for free-wheeling speculation and subjective
interpretation. The USGS determination relies on empirical data and proven
natural science. To quote the renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, “The
good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it.”
We will cite again what we have said in response to past posts by Stewart.
Twain scholars and aficionados should carefully examine all relevant and
proven information about the location of the 1861 Clemens campsite and use
critical-thinking skills to reach their own conclusion.
David C. Antonucci
Author of Fairest Picture – Mark Twain at Lake Tahoe