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Centennials? What Centennials?

Written by Subject: Conspiracies

Dog That Didn't Bark Special - Volume Nine, No. One - Why no Centennial Celebrations?

The Centennial for the first Nature Movie took place in June 1909. We sent out news releases and held a small event. No one came.

That first showing was at the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite. The film was made by Arthur C. Pillsbury.

Pillsbury had previously designed and built the first circuit panorama camera as his senior project at Stanford where he was majoring in Mechanical Engineering. His first invention was a specimen slicer for a microscope, designed and built in 1895.

The local paper, the Palo Alto Times, reported the event.

28 November - Palo Alto Times - ``An Ingenious Piece of Work"

``...and it was for Mr. A.C. Pillsbury, our ingenious young bicycle man, to first introduce one [microtome] of domestic manufacture." Microtomes used to cut insects so they can be seen in microscope." (some on machine)

``The machine is indeed ingenious and when it is considered that the whole work of designing and making the parts was done by Mr. Pillsbury at his own shop, it marks him as one with unusual mechanical ability."

His senior adviser, Professor Rice, had looked at the design for the circuit panorama camera and told him not to bother, it could not work.

Ignoring this sage advice Pillsbury built the camera. It worked. Pillsbury left the University and headed for the Yukon where he used the camera to record the opening of the mining towns down the Yukon River from its headwaters to the ocean.

Nome Alaska, two months old

Pillsbury used it again to record the first hours of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire on April 18, 1906. 

No. 101 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Making hundreds of photographs, panorama and conventional, Pillsbury made enough money to achieve one of his long term goals by purchasing the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite. He used post cards as a form of advertising. A short while later this same year, 1909, he achieved a certain notoriety in San Francisco by being cast away in his balloon while doing aerial photos of the rebuilding of San Francisco.

Three years later, as what he describes as a 'hobby,' he designed a lapse-time camera which could speed up events for the human eye and show a flower blooming. The film was first shown on October 16, 1912 to a conference which included Park Superintendents from around the country.

Again, no Centennial, though we sent our news releases. Curiouser and curiouser.  The National Park Service expressed no interest and did not return my phone calls.  But both these events took place in Yosemite, a certified National Park.  

When the dog does not bark there is always an explanation.   

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