Submerging History: An Update


I have received quite a bit of email regarding my post on Carroll County’s plan to appropriate a parcel of the Whitaker Chambers farm to accommodate a planned reservoir. I received a nice note from John Miller at National Review who wrote the article that sparked my post and from Mauricio Tamargo, who is working with Whitaker’s son John to establish non profit foundation to preserve the parcel of land at issue and build a small library featuring Chambers’ work.

Kevin Dayhoff has offered a very thoughtful commentary as well. I appreciate Kevin’s response. However, I take issue with his statement that “The National Review article painstakingly attempted to be as factual as possible it nevertheless unfortunately did a disservice to not only the reader but also to the National Review. It seemingly purposefully mislead, or at least at a minimum easily allowed the reader to be left with the impression that the site of the “Pumpkin Papers” was in danger – when this impression could not be farther from the truth.”

This is simply not true. I specifically noted so in my post, and John Miller did so as well in the article. Miller writes, “The proposed Union Mills Reservoir would not submerge any of the three houses on the Chambers property, which is nearly 400 acres in size, nor would it come near the spot where Whittaker Chambers stashed microfilm in a hollowed-out pumpkin at a climactic moment during the Hiss ordeal.”

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The important thing here, is as Miller states, “To the son, however, the damage would go far beyond the loss of 15 acres, or an additional parcel of the farm that the reservoir would cut off from the rest of his land. ‘This place is about more than the pumpkin patch,’ he says. ‘You can’t tell me that one part of it matters less than another part of it. This is our home.’”

Mauricio Tamargo emailed me saying, “the main farm house and the pumpkin patch area are not threatened by the planned flood but the rear house, where Whittaker lived for the last ten years of his life and where he died is threatened by the water. I believe the water will, during a high pool level period of heavy rain or storm, come close enough to the rear house to flood it’s basement with its antique stone foundation. Those basement walls will not hold and the whole house will collapse into the basement and be destroyed.”

There is nothing in the article, purposefully or otherwise, that can be construed as misleading the reader to think that the Pumpkin Papers site is in danger.

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