Locomotive Study (alternate design for mural study, Bowling Green, Kentucky Post Office)

  • Edward Laning, Locomotive Study (alternate design for mural study, Bowling Green, Kentucky Post Office), 1941, ink, chinese white, pencil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Mary Fife Laning, 1984.88.7

Exhibition Label

Laning corresponded with various people in Bowling Green about possible subject matter for his mural, and the local newspaper solicited ideas from its readers. From the many suggestions he received, Laning worked out two proposals. Locomotive Study shows the city's first locomotive, which was brought by steamboat and hauled up the river bank by ox-teams. Laning included in the composition a bowling scene, as well as the tobacco and strawberry plants suggested by a local citizen.

His second idea, which was chosen for execution, featured a story about Kentucky's native son, Daniel Boone. He explained the tale as follows: "The 'Long Hunters' (so named for their prolonged stay in the wilderness) were alarmed one day by a strange sound in the forest. Veteran woodsmen though they were, the Long Hunters admitted they had never heard anything that remotely resembled it.... As one man [they] reached for their long rifles; and Casper Mansker, already famous as a woodsman, slipped silently off to investigate.... Gripping his loaded rifle, Mansker dodged from tree to tree--and came upon Daniel Boonie lying flat on his back on an outspread deerskin, all alone and singing cheerfully to himself. Indians or no Indians, Daniel felt happy that day; and like most men who lived much alone, he had a habit of singing and whistling to himself."

Although a few citizens critisized the mural as insufficiently serious in theme, an article in the Bowling Green Daily News praised the painting for its local character and national historical significance.

Special Delivery: Murals for the New Deal Era, 1988

Locomotive Study (alternate design for mural study, Bowling Green, Kentucky Post Office)
On View
Not on view.
sheet: 14 1/2 x 14 7/8 in. (36.7 x 37.8 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Mary Fife Laning

  • New Deal – Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture – Kentucky
  • Figure group
  • Landscape – Kentucky – Bowling Green
  • Study – mural study
  • Travel – water – riverboat
  • Animal – cattle
  • Travel – land – train
  • History – United States – westward expansion
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI