Southeast Missouri State University

River Campus Mural

March 1 2007 - September 1, 2007



With the upper section of the mural 95% complete, I am ready to begin the drawing for the Mississippi River Maritime

time line that will run across the bottom of the mural. I have been working on the drawing for two weeks. The vessels are drawn

to scale to compare the size progression over the centuries. Thus, a one inch tall person placed on the keelboat will feel

at home and in scale riding aboard the Delta Queen.


With the drawings complete and the images transferred to the canvas, I begin the process

of painting each vessel.







After all the painting is completed using the free standing easels,

the lower panel is attached to the main body of the mural. After joining the

two sections some images are extended onto the surface of the adjoining panel. The chimneys of

the J. M. White were too high to be depicted on the lower panel alone.



Moving on to painting the Delta Queen, Sandy added her expertise to the mural. A few years ago Sandy

and I were invited to travel aboard the Delta Queen from Red Wing, Minnesota to St. Louis.

I gave several lectures on river history and a couple of painting demonstrations. Our cabin was on the third deck,

next to the last cabin from the stern. After mixing the proper color for the window, I asked her if she would like

to paint the window of our cabin on the Delta Queen.

After 2008, the Delta Queen will no longer travel the Inland Waterways. She is being

decommissioned. This is, in my opinion, the end of the true steamboat era. She was the

last true steam-powered, paddle-wheeled vessel with overnight accommodations on the river today.


Nice touch!!!

The time line as it appears on the mural. Yes, there were many vessels other than these that

traveled on the Mississippi River. I chose these vessels as a representation of the evolvement of

technology in river travel for thousands of years. All the vessels are depicted in scale to one another

to accent the ever expanding dimensions of boats on the river.


From left to right, please follow my vessels of the river time line.

1. Dug out canoe.    The dug out canoe was the mainstay for thousands of years. Simple to build...easy to maintain.

2. Flatboat.    After the Europeans came to America, their vessels began to dominate the river highways. The flatboat was a

downstream form of transportation only. When the boats reached their destination, in most cases New Orleans,

they were torn apart and sold as lumber.

          3. Keelboat.   The keelboat could travel not only downstream but upstream as well by use of cordelling - pulling the boat from land with a long

     towline, poling, rowing, and sailing. Prior to the steamboat, this was the only way to carry large quantities of cargo upstream.

            4. Steamboat, New Orleans.    In 1811, the western rivers moved toward the use of steam technology. The New Orleans was the first

       steamboat on the western rivers. Note the use of sails. Although they were never or very seldon used, they felt that steam power

could use a little backup.

      5. The Yellowstone.    By the 1830's, steamboats were beginning to resemble the image we equate with a steamboat. Although

still underpowered, the vessels of the 1830's were making the river highways their home. The Yellowstone was the

first steamboat to travel up the treacherous Missouri River to Ft. Union at present day Williston, ND.

   6. The Arabia. This steamboat is a representation of the size and stature of the 1850's vessel. The 1850's were the real heyday of

the steamboat era. It wasn't until after the Civil War that the grand boats we identify as steamboats were built.



7. The "Iron Clad" Carondolet. The Carondolet was one of seven city class iron clads designed and built by James Eads

for the Union army. The Civil War was a great turning point for the rivers. Afterwards, the railroads began

their steady domination of the rivers.

8. The J. M. White, 1878.    To compete with the railroads, the river interests decided to build some of the grandest vessels ever conceived.

The railroad may be faster, but river travel was more comfortable, as in the case of the

J.M. White, the most luxurious steamboat ever built. Unfortunately, the public opted for speed not luxury. The J.M. White

never turned a profit and burned in 1886.

9. The Cape Girardeau. The Cape Girardeau embodies the evolvement of the steamboat into the last part of the 19th century, fast and

efficient. However, these vessels proved to be no competion for the railroad industry.


10. The Delta Queen. Built in 1926 and decomissioned in 2008, she was the

last true steam-powered, paddle-wheeled vessel with over night accommodations on the river today.

Thus, in my opinion, the end of the true steamboat era.

11. The Peter Fanchi. Built in 1977, she is not the true giant of today's tow boats, however,

she embodies the new generation of vessels that are the mainstay of the river today. Peter Fanchi Sr. is also a friend of mine.




My last job is painting the kids fishing....the fun part of the river. Thanks to Anna and Andrew Fischer for their modeling talents.

A few last minute touches and the mural will be ready to ship. I have a quote on my wall in the studio,

"An artist never really finishes his work, he simply abandons it"

Very true.


All the best to you,



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