Monday, April 05, 2010

April 5, 2010
Went home for lunch and whipped out a couple scratchboards. First up, a new bottom for the Nazi Western True West Moment:

This is called "How 2" as opposed to "How 1":

I wanted the In-din to be a little further back, on a ridge, kind of looking down on the Nazi film crew, both literally and figuratively, but I don't always get what's in my head, out through my hand, on to paper. Meanwhile, tweaked another Point of View of a Vaquero:

Nice effects in both, but the Vato at left seems more Mexicano to me. Also working on a Colorado steamboat for another Martha Summerhayes True West Moment:

I nailed the canyons of the Colorado River, but that damn steamboat is more birthday cake than authentic steamer. Dammit! Had good reference but tubed it.

Pulled down my copy of Vanished Arizona and reread Martha's take on how she and her husband and his fellow troopers made it from Fort Yuma up the Colorado River to Fort Mojave:

". . .and here we were, on the steamer 'Gila,' Captain [Jack] Mellon, with the barge full of soldiers towing on after us, starting for Fort Mojave, some two hundred miles above."

So the troopers coming into the Arizona theater of war (think Iraq rotation), were hauled up the Colorado on huge barges towed by the steamer. What the hell did that look like? Well, here's a drawing from a Mark Twain book of a twin stack steamboat pushing several barges on the Mississippi:

The officers and their wives (about nine) were on the steamer itself but it didn't give them much shelter in August:

"We had staterooms, but could not remain in them long at a time, on account of the intense heat. . ."

A thermometer showed the temperature in the shade at 122 degrees and when they ate in the "saloon" behind the wheel house the metal handles of the knives "were uncomfortable to touch; and even the wooden arms of the chairs felt as if they were slowly burning."

At dusk, the steamer would find a level bank where the soldiers could make camp and the officers and their wives slept on the decks of the boat. As they attempted to escape the searing heat, they all gravitated to the west side of the boat in the mornings and the east side in the afternoons as the boat listed up the river. The sandbars were treacherous and the deck hands utilized long poles to push the boat when they struck a sand bar, which was quite often. Martha reports that they were "aground an hour, sometimes a half day or more." The trip took 11 days and the legendary captain Mellon bragged that 52 days was the longest he had been stranded, so far. Ha.

"It's quite a place, come out and see it."
—Captain Bernard of the Fifth Cav

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