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carole lombard 03

In its own way, an obscenity

Posted by vp19 on 2009.01.14 at 00:20
Current mood: infuriatedinfuriated
The following photo may be the closest thing to an obscene picture I've ever run at this community. There's no exposed private parts or graphic violence, mind you, but after looking at the photo -- and learning more about it -- you will likely share my revulsion.

The photo was taken at Mount Potosi in Nevada. And the grinning young woman has, around her head, a piece from this:

I have no idea who the above woman is, and if she happens to see this, let me emphasize this is not a personal attack on her.

I doubt she knew who Carole Lombard was or what she stood for.

I doubt she was aware nearly two dozen other people -- most of them Army pilots going to serve their country 40 days after Pearl Harbor -- died with her.

I doubt she understood she was holding an item from a genuine tragedy, not a souvenir.

I doubt she realized what she was doing was an insult to the dead..

At least I doubt she knew these things. If it turns out she did, heaven help her.

I've never had any desire to go to Mount Potosi; for one thing, it's government property and the public is technically prohibited from visiting the site. Some do anyway, and if so, I only hope it's out of respect for the memory of Lombard and the others who met their fate there. People who have gone there say it's an extremely rugged, difficult and dangerous climb -- this isn't a national park like Yosemite or Shenandoah, so don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise -- and the last thing any of us want to see is this mountain claiming yet another victim.

But there's another reason why I would dissuade anyone from going to the site. From the day this community began some 19 months ago, I've tried to stress not how Carole Lombard died, but how she lived. What made her special isn't that she was a film star who left us at a premature age, but that she was one of the most beloved people in the entertainment industry, by those of both mighty and meager status, and was so highly regarded while still alive because of her generosity to other people.

That's how she deserves to be remembered, especially with the 67th anniversary of her passing only days away. And you can be certain we will pay her a fitting tribute.


(Anonymous) at 2009-01-14 06:18 (UTC) (Link)
I can't begin to express what your words mean.. I've never felt such love and respect for someone you never met but yet you know that she was a remarkable woman. Thank you.. and do know that from where she is, she is thanking you...

Blessed you..
lombardarchive at 2009-01-14 13:13 (UTC) (Link)
From the moment someone published the GPS coordinates to the crash site on the internet, this photo (or something like it) was the inevitable result. We have always feared that Potosi would be turned into Six Flags Over Nevada by people without a clue, or without a heart. I've even seen the site described as "...an interesting day trip when you're tired of the Las Vegas casino action..." Dear God.

Each person who met their fate at the sheer face of Mt. Potosi in January 1942 suffered horribly, indescribably. Burned, fractured, crushed, dismembered. It was not an easy death, no going gently into that good night.

Treating any of these souls with less than the full respect and dignity they deserve (such as the grinning young lady in the photo) diminishes us all.

God bless you, Vince, for addressing this abomination. Ugh.

Carole Sampeck
The Carole Lombard Archive
(Anonymous) at 2013-02-08 13:54 (UTC) (Link)

It happened so fast.

Believe me, they did not suffer. Likely, they never realized what happened, so take some solace in that. Nerve impulses for pain travel at about 250 feet per second. They were probably traveling around 180 FPS. They stopped in a second or two. Never really felt a thing.
Amy Jeanne
amy_jeanne at 2009-01-14 15:39 (UTC) (Link)
I disagree. While I think the girl's pose and silly grin are a bit much, I think visiting her death site and even photographing it is not obscene. Being a "death hag", I would do the same thing -- death is not a bad or evil thing to me. Rather, extremely fascinating. So, yes, if I had a chance to go there I would photograph myself at her death site. Only not so cheesily.

Of course, I'm interested in the lives of my favourite stars just as much as their deaths. Their deaths are just another amazing part of their wonderful lives.
vp19 at 2009-01-14 16:00 (UTC) (Link)

Amy Jeanne...

...that the girl was there didn't bother me so much as her pose or grin, which was completely out of place considering what happened there. If people want to visit, they are going to, I suppose -- but my warning about the treacherous conditions still applies. Anyone who goes there thinking it's just a regular hike could be making a fatal mistake.

It's not the visit, or photographing the site, which bothered me about the picture...simply the disrespectful tone that accompanied it.

(Anonymous) at 2009-01-14 16:23 (UTC) (Link)

Mt. Potosi - To Vist or Not to Vist

Vince, thank you for that very passionate, thought-provoking piece today.

I've never visited the site, nor do I have any great desire to go. But I understand why some people would make the trip. Eight years ago, I visited Dachau, as I felt the need to witness an important (yet deplorable) part of history. I took a few photos, but it was always with respect (unlike that young woman's snapshot).

It is sometimes very difficult to reconcile how a beautiful, generous woman like Carole could meet such a horrible fate. However, I do believe that her death was instantaneous given where she was seated in the plane. I'm not so sure the service men were as fortunate.

One can derive peace from visiting such a site, I suppose. It's like mourners returning to a battlefield. But desecrating a site is unforgivable and almost as tragic as the what took place on that mountain 67 years ago.

(Anonymous) at 2009-01-14 16:25 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Mt. Potosi - To Visit or Not to Visit

Can't believe I left off the second "i" in VISIT! I must learn to use spell check!

Amy Jeanne
amy_jeanne at 2009-01-14 20:20 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Amy Jeanne...

I agree with the pose and the smile. Her level of hiker-ness aside, and just to be devil's advocate, maybe the girl didn't know a thing about what happened there, saw the rusty remains, thought they looked "cool" and insisted she be photographed next to them. If that was the case, I can forgive the cheesiness of her photo. If she really is a Lombard fan (which I'm going to say she probably IS), I can't say that I really understand what she did.

I know that if I ever did happen to find myself there for some strange reason I wouldn't be smiling -- being a Carole Lombard fan. Actually, I'd probably cry and I would insist on a photo of myself crying at her death site. We're actually going to visit Hollywood cemetaries this Spring -- the fountains will be on!!

I guess I misunderstood that you were specifically talking about the girl's grin and pose. Which, yes, I heartily agree.

Wow -- is this coming out of ME???
(Anonymous) at 2018-09-25 04:20 (UTC) (Link)
First of all death is not an evil thing I agree with that.What is bad is if your soul isnt ready to meet your maker that is the bad thing its either Heaven or hell Im not saying they didnt make it only God knows for sure who made it and who didnt It just pays to be ready and have your heart right with God
(Anonymous) at 2009-01-14 22:10 (UTC) (Link)


What is there to smile about???!! OMG!! That's like being at the world Trade Center site (ground zero) & smiling, which my sister had seen some tourists doing (she worked there for 10 yrs & was bought out by AT&T about 5 mos before the 9/11 attacks!) SO I thank AT&T for having her leave WTC!!And Thank God!!

This photo really does make me angry, you are not missy at a national park somewhere, ppl were killed in such a terrible way up there!!

I would like to go to pay my respects & place some flowers, say a prayer for all those lives lost that horrible cold January night!!
God rest them all!!!
(Anonymous) at 2013-02-08 14:34 (UTC) (Link)

Not "Unreal!!!"

Wow. This photo makes you angry? Pretty judgemental on your part. The place where my Father died has some meaning to me, but not to you. If the family that bought Dad's house take a photo of their kids playing in the driveway where Dad's fatal heart attack occurred, I would not be upset. That family bought it from us, and are well aware of what occurred.

The World Trade Center and 9/11 was a significant event in this young ladies life. Carole Lombard was not. This was 71 years ago, probably three lifetimes for this girl They pave over civil war battlefields every day in this country. People take smiling pictures at the Custer Battlefield, Fords Theater, and Gettysburg. Unless Carole was your Mother, Aunt or the like, relax.

Besides, this was an accident. Tragic, yes, but an accident. The WTC was murder on a grand scale that changed the lives of every American almost every day. This was an actress that died in a plane crash. A talented, cute and sweet one, who also happened to be married to America's male heartthrob, and that was all. If Angelie Jolie was killed in a car accident while going to a charity event, the world would not stop, and I wouldn't expect everyone to be crushed by this event.
(Anonymous) at 2009-01-15 05:59 (UTC) (Link)

Lombard Crash Site

Having been to the crash site numerous times since 1990, there is definitely nothing up there to smile about. I can only think is that she has no idea of what really happened there on the night of January 16th, 1942. In any case not very respectful to smile at a place of such tragedy.

During the past 10 years, I have noticed increased foot traffic at the site including large aircraft parts such as the landing gear assembly (seen in photo) being pushed down the mountain. The fact that the GPS location is on the internet is pretty irresponsible and has contributed to the vandalism. I have no problem with visitors. I do have a problem with vandals.

Also, to clarify the crash site is actually on U.S. Forest Service managed public land and while it is government land, it is not off limits to visit. Inexperienced hikers are discouraged to climb Potosi Mountain due to the hazardous hiking conditions of the terrain and the potential risk a recovery places rescue crews in.

I would also like to point out that the plane was traveling at nearly 150 miles per hour when it struck the mountain and I can assure you that no passengers or crew suffered in this accident. It was simply instantaneous.

If interested, I have created a web page of details involving the accident. My web page does not give out any GPS locations.


Mike McComb

(Anonymous) at 2013-02-08 14:12 (UTC) (Link)

Government Land

Potosi Mountain is indeed "Government Land", meaning yours and mine. It's not restricted, and one is not "technically prohibited" from accessing it. It is actually part of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area and is managed by the BLM and the USFS. You seem to imply that the young lady in the photo, or anyone else that accesses the site is committing a criminal act by even being there, which makes it seem all the worse.

While not Yellowstone, it is easily accessed by anyone with moderate physical skills.

As a final thought, people that are interested in historical sites, even if they are fatal, are not disrespectful if they don't show extreme reverence while there. Everyone deals with these things differently. Gettysburg, the Custer battlefield, Fords Theater..... all highly visited, and often filled with people who laugh, grin and take photos of such things. This happened 71 years ago. I'm sure this young lady would behave differently at the site of the twin towers in NYC, a real event in her lifetime.
(Anonymous) at 2013-11-26 19:26 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Government Land

Excellent thoughts, well said. You can see this even in how individuals behave when their loved ones die: differently, widely so.
(Anonymous) at 2013-11-26 19:23 (UTC) (Link)

From the day this community began some 19 months ago, I've tried to stress not how Carole Lombard d

Then you should do that, and avoid trash-talking the hiker-visitors. Sacred sites are a curse to the living. Rope off all of them for the ages and we'd not have space to live or make a living or in this case recreate.
(Anonymous) at 2017-12-23 14:55 (UTC) (Link)
You are an idiot!!!!!
(Anonymous) at 2017-12-23 14:59 (UTC) (Link)
Meaning the original author is a moron!! Just because hikers/climbers go to the site, it is not some travesty you try to make it out to be.
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