Traffic Jam at Horsehead Crossing

                                                   Traffic Jam at Horsehead Crossing 



                                                                  Mike Capron


There was a historical gathering at Horsehead Crossing recently and I was asked to paint a picture of the Butterfield Stage and some Comanches at Horsehead Crossing ………Sounded like an exciting project but the time table was short and I did very little research.  I had heard stories of the Butterfield Stage and read two accounts of passengers riding the stage from St. Louis to San Francisco. This was in 1850 and still lots of Comanches around the Horsehead Crossing area. So I had some thoughts of some compositions and started painting immediately with no actual events to use for information or reference just all imagination with some old photos of Butterfield stages and Comanches. Since there were no actual accounts of Comanches attacking a Butterfield Stage, I thought it would be fun to create an encounter at Horsehead Crossing. Not A successful attack by the Comanche but a race of harassment with the Comanches and the Stage. Comanches were horseman and loved a horse race. The Stage Driver and the man riding shotgun were probably better armed than the Comanches and the Comanches were certainly respectful of the shotgun and any repeating pistols or rifles.  I thought it was interesting to let the imagination  roll and just dream of the possibilities that could occur.  

I enjoyed doing the painting and just let my paint brush roll.  I finished the painting and had lots of positive comments about the painting and the story it told.  You could see Castle Gap in the middle distance and of course a skeleton of a horse in the foreground, both very necessary items in a Horsehead Crossing painting. No-one commented about the historical fact that their never was a Butterfield stage attacked by the Comanches. I have read every account of the Butterfield stage line and not once was there ever an incident of the Comanches attacking the Butterfield Stage.   

So there is about as much truth in this painting as there is in a historical novel. But the painting is based on the fact that the Comanches took every opportunity to make life uncomfortable for any person they found within the boundaries of their domain.  

I like to paint and I think paintings should be like a story, interesting, enjoyable, colorful, and fun to do. So I am excited about the next one already…….!!!!!!

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