Cover Art Description:
Montana has never been a particularly easy place to get to, although twentieth-century modes of transportation have eased the difficulties and increased the comfort level measurably. Such was not the case in the nineteenth century, when steamboats plied the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, and stagecoaches and wagon trains creaked and rumbled across dusty trails to gold mines and early towns. And such is the theme of this special Western Transportation Issue.
Among the forms of early transportation, few captured the imagination of western artists like the stagecoach. Indeed, in what one critic described as "the apotheosis of stagecoaches," Frederic Remington fashioned The Old Stagecoach of the Plains (1901, oil on canvas, 40 1/4" x 27 1/4"), which first appeared in Century Magazine in January 1902 and appears on the front and back covers courtesy the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. The nocturnal scene, critics have argued, is so good it invites the viewer to accept it as real.
Perhaps less suggestive of an ideal reality but based nonetheless on an authentic incident is Charles M. Russellís The Hold Up (1899, oil on canvas, 30 1/8" x 48 1/8"), reproduced on the back cover also courtesy the Amon Carter Museum. In it, Russell depicts Big Nose George Parrot holding up the Black Hills stage. The passengers are stock frontier charactersódriver, prospector, school marm, widow, Chinese man, and merchant recently arrived from the Eastóbut some were based on real people, including Isaac "Ikey" Katz, the nervous merchant on the far right who had several thousand dollars sewn into his clothes when held up.
Parrot, later arrested in Miles City and taken to Rawlins, Wyoming, for trial, was summarily hanged by vigilantes in 1881, only a year before Russell arrived in Montana as a kid of sixteen. Russell never forgot the story, and the painting he created eighteen years later was the first major work of his that Sid Willis acquired for his Mint saloon in Great Falls, where it hung prominently for some fifty years.
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