|By Jim Martin
--- George Shaw
had no special plans in mind when he salvaged
the remains of Meadville's Keystone View
Co. in 1976 and stashed the contents in
an empty barn.
Sooner or later, he figured,
someone would find a use for this mountain
of stereoscopic photo memorabilia.
Long before the digital
camera, even before 35 mm, twin-lens stereoscopic
cameras froze moments in time. Later, the
side-by-side images could be viewed in three
dimensions on hand-held viewers.
Stereoscopes were the rage
around the beginning of the 20th century,
when viewing the photo collections was popular
family entertainment. And for years, Keystone
View was the largest stereoscopic photo
company in the world.
When Keystone closed its Meadville
plant in 1976 and new owners prepared to
relocate, the company's vast collection
of negatives was donated to the University
| It was
widely thought, though, that the contents
of the Keystone View plant, including thousands
of photos, were entombed in a landfill.
Brothers Eric and Lance Johnson mourned
the loss more than most.
The Meadville natives had no
ownership stake in Keystone, but it was the
family business all the same.
Their grandfather Charles Johnson,
went to work at Keystone shortly after the
company was founded in 1892 and eventually
served as a pallbearer at the funeral of company
founder B. L. Singley.
The two Johnson brothers, both of whom
worked short stints at Keystone, said their
father, Harold Johnson, spent 53 years at
Keystone and even met his future wife, Isabel,
a commercial artist, while working there.
"I grew up at Keystone." said
Eric Johnson, a long-time news director at
WJET-TV and now a dispatcher for the Pennsylvania
State Police at Lawrence Park.