"Brick Kilns," Clay Bluffs 1900 Miles above St. Louis, 1832
11 1/8 x 14 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
One stretch of the Upper Missouri was lined with the "Brick Kilns," the trappers' nickname for clay banks that had been eroded by the river into a series of tall, fantastically shaped, colorfully striated bluffs. Catlin, an amateur geologist, found a layer of red pumice on top of the bluffs, which led him to speculate that the bluffs were ultimately volcanic in origin.