Saturday, April 8, 2023

Bear's Paw Mountain by Cora Leland

 I wanted to be sure that the mountain I was writing about would be as precarious as I needed: a teen-aged woman was riding alone in the mountains, like she did almost every day.  Her family was packing their prairie schooner for a trip to Nebraska to take a family friend to a specialist. The poor fellow drifted in and out of reality.

My beautiful young lady, though, was caught in a land slide!  But how could I show that the mountain was that vulnerable? If it were shale, I decided that it would be. (I'd hopped around like a mountain goat over shale, so I knew perfectly well, first hand, that it could create havoc.) 

My book-mountain was on a large spread (in Montana), so even a small injury to my teen-aged heroine could be fatal...

Daisy riding her pony at Bear's Paw Mountain

It took a few hours to verify that such shale existed in Montana, but it was most prevalent in north central Montana. 

The Missouri River has also been of great interest to me during the last half of this series (Lakota Rescue).   

I feel that this painting (done in 1845) by George Caleb Bingham establishes the importance of fur trappers and traders. The Metropolitan Museum of Art discusses this art work at length in those terms, telling us to look at the people in the boat, who they are and where they came from.  I did, and they were right! (The man paddling the boat they assumed to be a French fur trapper, also by the rare animal perched comfortably on the boat.  They assumed the young man was the trader's son.)  I also felt that I wanted to bring this feeling of cheerfulness and peace to my heroine after her accident.

Fur Trappers Descending the Missouri

Another important biographical painting done by this American portraitist from Missouri was about an election.  (Bingham said he'd travel the country painting 'normal' scenes.) In this painting of a small-town election in Missouri, the article's author told us to look at the people who were happy about the election:  "White males, every single one.  The 'few' women were perched in a balcony and the one Black person was pushing a cart (of 'brew')."  Bingham was a senator, an abolitionist & tea-totaller!

I'm very sorry that Sweethearts of the West blog won't be part of our lives past the end of this month!  I remember getting an invitation from Caroline Clemmons to write for the blog, years ago, how happy and honored I was.  I still have many ideas that I never got to write in Sweethearts of the West, and I remember the blog posts that helped my first and only bout with writer's block (what can I possibly say on this blog?).

Good luck to everyone in the future and I'm sure that our paths will cross again.  Cora Leland Author

 Bk 8 Lakota Rescue, Iron Elk: Rescuing Eliza


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Angela Raines graciously agreed to administer the blog in my place so it can continue. Thank you, Angela!.


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