Saturday, October 02, 2010

Whipple's Providence of the 1870's

As a few of you know, Chrispy has spent months accumulating data on Whipple van Buren Phillips. Why? Even I don't really know, but the man was incredible. This is not the venu to do a lot of sharing just yet, but one must pause to think.

Lovecraft became increasingly nostalgic about old Providence. However, he seemed to purposely leap frog past Whipple's Providence, to the Georgian era. To him it was a particularly fascinating era, and he often daydreamed himself there.

The Whipple-era Providence was bustling, growing, and a bit gritty. Providence blew past Newport to become a top 20 American city teaming with immigrants. They were the fodder for the industrialization of America, and much of Whipple's business fed timber and coal to that hoi poloi.

There was no EPA, and Whipple would have been appalled by sch a thing. Pollution was the lubricant of business, and business was all to the tycoons of the gilded era. Where Thoreau might have seen the rape of Nature, Whipple would have seen progress. Lovecraft would have seen Juan Romero and some monsters lurking. But that's another story. heh.

These are typical stereoscopic and sepia images, the forerunners of viewmasters. And if you are too young to recall the power and glory of viewmaster, think of them as 3-d holograms. These are the Providence that Lovecraft did not see, as they are dated to the 1870's. He saw the same places 25 and even 50 years later, but they had been upgraed, torn down or become more delapidated as the case might have been.

Whipple apparently flitted back and forth between western Rhode Island and Providence as he variously created enterprises, went in and out of bankruptcy, fought numerous litigations, and finally settled permanently into Providence hesitating only briefly before he decided on his obsessive, final and fatal conquest and terraforming of Idaho's Bruneau River valley.

His story is a worthy one, and the famous (to Lovecraftians) Idaho adventure was but the finale of an incredible career that has yet to be fully excavated by historians.

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