Sunday, July 18, 2010

Moving west out of Lawrenceburgh towards Cincinnati, we ran up against the modern world of casinos along the Ohio River and the bucolic rolling hills of the Ohio River valley. The landscape has a way of hiding the views of the countryside and affords glances more intimate and old world in flavor. Cycling over the state line and then crossing the river on a country bridge, we stopped in the middle to take in the view. This unobstructed position had a very nostalgic sentiment looking westward down the Ohio. It was not hard to imagine 1820 and the flatboats of early German settlers floating down the river. The current meanders and sandbars rise up along the bends. It doesn't appear treacherous at this point and almost begs for a canoe to explore the wandering shoreline. Water birds fly overhead and though I am aware of an industrial city not far away, this location looks like a resting spot for Huck Finn. In his youth, Lincoln took a raft trip down the Mississippi and looking out at the Ohio River one can easily imagine a 19th century river culture and what it must have been like to pole out of the shoals and unlodge a plank from the shallows.

However, the schedule Lincoln kept when he left Indianapolis with his son, Robert Todd,- found himself arriving in Cincinnati the next day. Traveling along this route must have been an impressive tour as well as a true initiation into the world of national politics when approximately 100,000 people showed up to see his father, the President elect.

The relatively quiet picturesque Ohio landscape and our sepia toned memories of a horse based economy are truly false windows to a mid 19th century America. This was a highly contentious time for Lincoln and public affaires were complex and politically dangerous.

1 comment:

  1. The landscape is imitating your paintings! Good to read the narrative...