Working with artists:

Sometimes, artists ask if they can paint an image of me from a photo.  I smile and say yes, but can never figure out exactly why.  Still, I feel honored when that occurs.  There are two images here.  The first is a recent painting by H. David Wright  (titled: MOVEMENT ON THE FAR BANK) and the second one by Steve White which was featured on the cover of Backwoodsman magazine.  The Great Lakes Fur Trade and birch bark canoes have been an important and interesting area I have investigated in both study and field experience.  I have taken a number of trips in my 17 foot birch bark canoe over the past 30 years, including a 7-day trip on the Mississippi River.  These painting are from photos taken on those various trips



Birchbark is a wonderful medium to work with. Here are three recent projects I completed.  I can see why native people found birchbark so useful.  It is readily available here in the North Country, has strength and can be molded and bended (to an extent).  Black spruce root is also readily available for sewing the bark together.  Birchbark is also comes from a renewable resource and is replaceable.  I hope to do more in the future.


A neck knife–the chord is adjustable and woven from

three different color strands of hemp.


A simple bark container, sewn together with black spruce root.





I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the woods this afternoon harvesting birchbark for some upcoming projects–hopefully not repairing my canoe. At this time of the year, the bark can be removed easily. Removing the bark does not kill the tree. Birchbark is a remarkable material to make containers with. I probably should have been out mowing, but sometimes we have to make time to do the things we love and have meaning for us.
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Cindy and I traveled to St. Louis last weekend to participate in the Boone Society’s annual reunion. We had a great time meeting all the wonderful people there, many of them related to the Boone family. I was the keynote speaker for the event and talked about our recent expedition which covered 230 miles and 14 stops along the Boone Trace, Wilderness Road corridor.  I bought a number of visual aids, including the saddle and firearm I carried on the expedition as well as a mannequin dressed as an 18th century frontiersman. I also used Power Point to show some of the many digital images taken on the expedition with music from a wonderful CD titled: The Wilderness Trail.  It is produced by Ron Short.  For more information on this got to Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association

Ric Lampert had on display some of the many, wonderful, digital photos he took at Martin’s Station and during the Cumberland Gap Crossing. Some are shown here.  These are being made into limited edition prints that will soon be available on the Boone Society’s website.  Great job, Ric!! Also, three rifles that Ric put together were on display.  Two of them for the Boone Society, reflecting the type of flintlock firearm that Daniel Boone might have used and another one—all three very high quality.  I continue to evaluate and reevaluate our recent expedition.  It was both stressful and meaningful.  I will be writing about this for the next couple of issues of Muzzleloader magazine.

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The American Frontier History Expedition

More training today. John Hayes, one of the core members of the group and longtime friend got in the saddle and we went for about three miles, maybe more. I added saddle bags, a martingale, halter and hemp lead rope to my outfit–also a sheepskin pad for the seat of my saddle. The weather was cool and the animals a bit on the get up and go side, but it was an enjoyable ride. We got off the main trails and went right through the woods at times, over logs and under limbs. Mike Brown provided the horses and rode along. There is still much to learn, but there is something special about being seeing nature in a saddle. So looking forward to taking what we are learning and applying those skills on the Boone Trace and Wilderness Road corridor.

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Why I go into the woods

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life..

-Henry David Thoreau-

“Nature is the canvas on which God paints His color, creativity, character, design, majesty, beauty and love for us to see, if we will only take time to look and listen.”

-something I wrote–and believe-

mark and missy standing




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A history neglected?

mel gibson, patriot quote

Sadly, I think so many Americans are disconnected from their history. Simon Kenton, (contemporay of Daniel Boone) said, “We are our past, we cannot cling to the past, but the past clings to us. Sometime I feel our country is like a ship that has taken sail with no specifc destination in mind and halfway there, no one remembers where the ship sailed from in the first place. We enjoy freedoms today that were puchased with the blood our our ancestors. Our history, although not pretty at times is worth learning and passing on to generations to come.

At Grand Portage National Monument

IMG_5773Gene Shadley and I spent a very interesting day at the Grand Portage National Monument last week doing some research for an upcoming article for Muzzleloader magazine called, Digging for Answers. In the picture, I am examining an gun lock found in the ground at Grand Portage some years ago. It is a flintlock and is around 200 years old. Last summer I had a very enjoyable time working with archeologists at the site. I hope to do more next year. The article will be about archeology at The Grand Portage. Pictured here are Karl Koster and Steve Veit who hosted our time there and shared both of thier time and knowledge of Grand Portage.
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The American Frontier History Expedition

This is just a bit of an update.  Things are progressing on some levels very fast and others not so.  We still do not have a firm bid for the horses, but all the core riders have been selected and others, that we will be contacting soon will be able to participate on more of a part-time basis.

Long hunters crossing the stream DW

Saddles and horse tack are being purchased, built or existing one being refurbished and modified to meet the period correct criteria.  Next week we will be working on the educational side of things and that is a big responsibility.  Much has been done, but there is more to do, but it is coming together.  I know that it will be worth it.