Days of Glory - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Days of Glory" Colored Pencil Drawing

It’s the early 1900s and Bridgeport, Nebraska is a fledgling community basking in the sunshine of its glory days. The town is known as “Trail City, USA” because it sits on or near many trails of the Old West including the Oregon, California, Mormon, Pony Express and Sidney-Black Hills trails.

Back in 1876, Henry T. Clarke built a bridge across the North Platte River just three miles upstream from the current site of Bridgeport. This overpass improved the link between Sidney and the booming, gold-mining settlements in the Black Hills.

The exchange of goods and precious metals between the two regions flourished for about a decade. During that time a loose-knit medley of early settlers established Camp Clarke, a small village located near the river.

The actual town of Bridgeport was officially founded as a railway station by the Burlington Railroad in 1900. After the coming of the trains, the population increased dramatically and in 1908 Bridgeport was promptly awarded the seat for newly created Morrill County.

Later, an ingeniously designed irrigation system brought a surplus of life-giving water to the thirsty plains. There is no doubt that this labyrinth of water works contributed greatly to the success and growth of the local farms and ranches.

This preparatory drawing commemorates those early years during the development of the city. The image will be scaled up and reproduced as a sign to be installed on the side of an old train car at the Pioneer Trails Museum in Bridgeport, Nebraska.

This design is not meant to be a precise, photographic reproduction of that time but more an expression of the excitement evoked by the modernization of the American frontier and reflected by the futurist art movement. It celebrates dynamic movement, color and composition.

The underlying structure is based on multiple perspectives that offer unusual, but more interesting viewpoints not observable under normal conditions. The color, though naturalistic, is amped up a bit and the composition is flooded with diagonals.

A modern marvel of gleaming silver, the stylized, steam locomotive charges into the foreground guided by tracks of timber and iron. The station stop, composed of crimson-roofed adobe outbuildings, is matter-of-factly identified as Bridgeport.

Exhaust from the smokestack streams through the air towards the iconic water tower and fades into the atmosphere where clouds drift over the purple Sandhills. The bright red lettering is hand-drawn and charmingly compliments the golden border that encloses the scene.

The town of Bridgeport has continued to evolve into a thriving, prosperous community but in a lot of ways it has remained the same. Just as it did over a 100 years ago, the economy still depends on agriculture, government and the railroad.

Despite all of the technological advancements, many residents still embrace the town’s rich history. Most people agree that no matter what happens in the future, there will never be a time so illustrious as those original days of glory.

Installed on the side of a train car


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