Opens With New Exhibits
Covered wagon, aerial map, tribute to artist Fred Irvin new this season
May 1, 2013 CT
Austin Buckner CT
Marvin Holcer, president of the Grand River Historical Society
Museum, welcomes visitors to their spring tea. At
Sunday's event, Holcer thanked the docents who volunteer their time to the museum.
The Grand River Historical Society Museum recently added three new
exhibits to its building in Chillicothe.
The first of those exhibits is a collection of
artwork by Chillicothe
native and famed artist Fred Irvin. Irvin graduated from CHS in
the early 1930s. He later attended the Kansas City Art Institute and the Chicago
Academy of Fine Arts. Curator Pamela Clingerman said Irvin was an
accomplished cartoonist, having once worked alongside Walt Disney, but it
was his work as an illustrator that helped make a name for himself.
"(Irvin) was at the Saturday Evening Post the same time as Norman
Rockwell," Clingerman explained. "He mostly illustrated magazine covers.
He did a couple of illustrations for Reader's Digest."
The collection of Irvin's artwork in Chillicothe is the largest in the
world. Still, Clingerman said the room at the museum dedicated solely to
Irvin is just a small sample of his work. "He did some amazing things, and this is just the top of the
cake," Clingerman said. "It only scratches the
This reproduction of a Prairie Schooner covered wagon is on
long-term loan to the museum.
These wagons were generally 11 feet long, two feet high, and four feet wide. When loaded, the wagons could weigh up
to 2,500 pounds.
Austin Buckner CT Photo
The second exhibit is a reproduction of a Prairie Schooner covered wagon.
The name of this particular type of wagon comes from its most recognizable
feature, a cover made of white cotton, linen canvas or Osnaburg cloth.
From a distance, the covers looked like sails traveling across the
prairie. Clingerman said the wagon is a great way to show visitors the
struggles of packing your family and all your belongings into one wagon
and making the grueling trip across the country.
"We're trying to show the kids you went from one side of the country with
everything you needed for the trip," Clingerman said.
According to Clingerman, Hollywood has created a common misconception
about the use of these wagons. When loaded, these wagons could weigh up to
2,500 pounds and required two yoke of oxen, mules, or horses to be pulled.
The wagons were primarily used to haul cargo instead of the travelers
themselves. "All the movies show everybody sitting on the thing and living inside the
wagon," Clingerman said. "That didn't happen. They walked beside and slept
The third exhibit is an aerial photograph of Chillicothe from the early
1960s. The photograph was later enlarged and now stands floor to ceiling
inside the museum, serving as a giant map of the city. Museum President
Marvin Holcer said the photograph is remarkable given the time when it
must have been produced.
Austin Buckner CT
This aerial photograph of Chillicothe is just one of the new
exhibits at the Grand River Historical Society Museum. The photograph is
believed to have been taken around 1964 by the USDA, commissioned by the
city. Many large pieces of the photograph have been stored in the museum
for years. The exhibit is fitted with many landmarks in red lettering to
help visitors better navigate the map.