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Fort Union, Mouth of the Yellowstone River, 2000 Miles above St. Louis

1832 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 11 1/4 x 14 3/8 in. (28.5 x 36.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.388 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing

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“The American Fur Company have erected here for their protection against the savages, a very substantial Fort, 300 feet square, with bastions armed with ordnance; and our approach to it under the continued roar of cannon for half an hour, and the shrill yells of the half-affrighted savages who lined the shores, presented a scene of the most thrilling and picturesque appearance . . . The Fort . . . was built by Mr. McKenzie, who now occupies it. It is the largest and best-built establishment of the kind on the river, being the great or principal head-quarters and depot of the Fur Company's business in this region. A vast stock of goods is kept on hand at this place; and at certain times of the year the numerous out-posts concentrate here with the returns of their season's trade, and refit out with a fresh supply of goods to trade with the Indians. The site for the Fort is well selected, being a beautiful prairie on the bank near the junction of the Missouri with the Yellow Stone rivers; and its inmates and its stores well protected from Indian assaults.” George Catlin painted this landscape in 1832 at the end of his voyage upriver on the steamboat Yellowstone. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, nos. 2, 3, 1841; reprint 1973)


Architecture Exterior - domestic - teepee

Architecture Exterior - military - fort

Architecture Exterior - military - Fort Union

Landscape - river - Yellowstone River



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added