Saturday, January 27, 2007

Louis Semple Clarke

Louis Semple Clarke
1867 - 1957

Lewis Semple Clark was one of Charles John Clarke’s sons. He was 22 at the time of the Flood, his brother John S. Clarke was 18.

Louis Semple Clarke is probably most famous for the spark plug he developed for use in gasoline engines. He also perfected the drive-shaft system for use in automobiles and was the first to design a useful oil circulation system.

Lewis Semple Clarke was a member of Pittsburgh's elite Duquesne Club.

Louis Semple Clark was a mechanical genius and was particularly interested in the automobile. He was the founder of the Pittsburgh Motor Company, later the Autocar company, which then became White Trucks and exists to this day as a subsidiary of Volvo. It was Clarke's insistence of placing the driver on the left hand side of the vehicle that led to that standardization throughout most of the automotive industry worldwide, as well as the consequent result that we drive on the right side of the road.

So when you get in your car today, and it starts (spark plug) and runs (oil circulation) and no one coming toward you crashes into you (sit on the left, drive on the right), you have Louis Semple Clarke to thank! Happy Motoring!

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Louis Semple Clarke and his wife Mary Phillips Clarke are buried at Allegheney Cemetery...

CLARKE, Louis Semple, 1866-1957

CLARKE, Mary Phillips, 1870-1952

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Thanks to the good graces of one of Louis Semple Clarke's family members, and the tireless work of the ranger at the Johnstown National Flood Memorial in preparing and scanning them, an outstanding collection of photographs of the members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club at play that were taken by Mr. Clarke can now be viewed on line at:

Mr. Clarke is the dashing looking young man in the naval suit and moustache (his brother John is the fellow sans moustache with him also in the nautical uniform).

If you look carefully you can see the shutter trigger wire in Clarke's hand in several of the photographs. He built an electric powered motor launch to cruise the waters of South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club's Lake Connemaugh. You can also see him a few years later, driving one of his cars, in the "Miscellaneous" section of the photos.

Read Charles Guggenheim’s excellent article from "American Heritage" about the discovery of these photographs at this site:

About the time of the turn of the century Clarke removed to Philadelphia’s Main Line where the family lived thereafter.

Louis Semple Clarke was 22 at the time of the Johnstown Flood.

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