Historical notes

32 years ago today, Mt. St. Helens exploded. Stupendous though it was, it was scarecely more than a hiccup compared to the Katmai/Novarupta eruption of 1912 in Alaska, which has fascinated me ever since I came across an article on the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in a 1918 National Geographic. In anticipation of its centennial next month, the U.S. Geological Survey has published a paper about the eruption and the history of research on it, which can be downloaded here.

Also free to download: Alaska Park Science Journal, Volume 11 Issue 1: Katmai Scientific Studies


A friend forwarded this picture to me. This is the note that accompanied it:

The 120° panoramic image (and its crop) you see above is titled “Daguerreotype View of Cincinnati” and was captured in 1848 by Porter and Fontayne from Newport, Kentucky. It was created with eight full-plate daguerreotypes and shows a two mile stretch of the Cincinatti waterfront. Codex 99 writes,

The panorama is not only the first photograph of the Cincinnati waterfront but the earliest surviving photo of any American city. It is also the earliest image of inland steamboats, of a railroad terminal and of freed slaves. It may very well be one of the most important American photographs ever taken.

3 thoughts on “Historical notes”

  1. That picture of Cincinatti is wonderful. One thing that stands out immediately is how all the buildings are well back and above the water line.

    Early photographers learned to take pictures of ships in sea ports at low tide, because ships would be grounded and wouldn’t move around during long-exposure shots (which was all of them, then). I assume this photographer likewise took his pictures when the Ohio river was particularly low, so that the steam ships wouldn’t rock around and wreck his shot.

  2. Katmai is only about 600 miles from me – as the crow flies. When you get up here we will have to take a trip there. I have yet to get to the Aleutian Islands and Attu in May is one of my goals (if there are still trips going there).

  3. I’ve been to Katmai Park for the fishing and have hiked down into the Valley. The shear scale of the ash flow is staggering.

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