White Pine Trail in Autumn and Learning about gross (and deadly) lack of handwashing in 1850

My parents stayed over for a night this past weekend. The main purpose was for them to see Munchies and watch her while we went out on a birthday date. We always have a good time hanging out with my parents, I really lucked out.

We went on a couple of short hikes while they were here. The first day we went walked on the White Pine trail up Little Cottonwood. About 1.75 miles up there is a pretty overlook that makes a nice destination. We couldn't have picked a better time of year for the hike. The aspens had all just turned a vibrant gold. There were about a hundred people milling around the parking lot and the first tiny stretch of the trail taking family pictures. Luckily they were all too lazy to actually hike anywhere, so the rest of the trail wasn't too congested.

My mom took these pictures. I always steal her pictures when I can instead of taking my own, partly because I'm lazy, partly because her camera is awesome.

 My dad educated us on Semmelweis while we walked. An OB doctor in 1850 who noticed how many of the patients at his hospital were getting infections and almost 20% were dying from it after giving birth. Nearby, there was a group of midwives. The midwives patients didn't get infections nearly as often. He discovered the reason infection was so high in the doctors' patients was because they did autopsies in the morning. They'd examine a woman who died, not wash their hands well, then go to a cervical exam on a woman in labor and pass it to her. He suggested hand washing with a chlorine solution. Infection dropped 90%. You wouldn't think the medical community could argue with those results, but they did. It just goes to show how much people don't like to change their minds and how closed minded and foolish they'll act in order to avoid doing so. He was ridiculed by many in the medical profession. He ended up kind of losing it and writing some letters to other OBs calling them ignoramuses and irresponsible murderers. He was correct, but that wasn't accepted until more than 20 years later, after his death.


  1. yeah, your mom's camera really is awesome. I was noticing how fantastic you guys all looked in the pictures on her white pine blog. not to mention the scenery. and man. It's crazy how hand washing among surgeons is such a relatively new thing. Seems like we live in a great time to be having babies.

  2. Yep, I recognize the photo theft. I chose several of the same ones for my post. Oh, well.
    I'm glad you posted about Simmelweiss's invention of handwashing. Amazing that docs still hadn't figured that out in 1850.

  3. great family photos....I'm a follower of your Mom's blogs...

  4. Looks gorgeous up there! Interesting about that OB doc (i certainly won't try to spell his name).

    Nice fall background btw :)


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