“Sockdolager” represents both an artistic and an historical statement. Therefore, each detail concerning the adventures and their equipment has been thoroughly research and justified.
The boat, named the “Emma Dean” after Powell’s wife, represented the smallest of the four used by Powell on that first expedition down the Colorado in 1869. It was manned by John Colter Sumner, Major John Wesley Powell and William Dunn. In his diary, Sumner described the Emma Dean as a “16 foot, four-oared pine shell.” These boats were made in Chicago. After several weeks in the dry climate of Utah, the wood began to shrink and separate. It was necessary for the men to periodically hike up to where pine trees were available to collect pine pitch to be used in sealing these cracks.
Major Powell, who was 33 years old at the time, had lost his right arm 2 inches below the elbow, to a mini-ball during the Battle of Shiloh. He is wearing a vulcanized rubber life preserver. The original life preserver is “hidden” (stored) somewhere in the Smithsonian Institution.
Sumner was a 5 foot 5 inch free-trapper by trade and was Major Powell’s lead boatman. He claimed to be the one who originally talked Powell into going down the Colorado River. Sumner appears here wearing his long-handle underwear, because by now, the men had lost or worn out most of their clothing.
The third person is William Dunn, also a trapper and mountain man. Dunn fell out of favor with Powell at the beginning of the trip, when he had accidentally gotten Powell’s watch wet. He later left the party at Separation Rapid along with the two Howland brothers, and as they were attempting to reach Mormon settlement, the 3 were apparently killed by Indians.
Inside the boat are beaver traps, tools, a camp kettle, and a gold pan. The search for beaver and gold was two of the main reasons why most of the men went on the trip, Powell being the only scientifically inclined member of the group.
The signal flag in the bottom of the boat was one of the first sources of contention between the Howland brothers and Powell. The use, or lack of use of the flag at what was later named Disaster Falls resulted in the loss of the boat, “No Name,” which was manned by the Howlands.
The bag at the left of Sumner was made from the top of a rubber boot and sealed with pine pitch. This was used to keep ammunition dry.
Subsisting mainly on moldy flour, some dried fruit and coffee, the men kept their weapons handy in hopes of bagging a mountain sheep or some other hapless creature. The 1866 Winchester saddlering carbine was a favorite of the time and weapons of the Civil War were also used.
Many oars were broken during the tip and had to be replaced by literally carving new ones from trees when they were able to find them.
Some technical information on “SOCKDOLAGER”: This piece is produced by using the lost wax casting technique. What sets this bronze apart from others is that it is cast in over 130 separate pieces which are then welded back together to form the complete sculpture.
This is the last piece available in a limited edition of only 20.
H:33” • W: 32” • D: 27"