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Rare Bird’s-Eye View of a Transitional Western Fort

7. [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: FORT RENO]. FOWLER, T[haddeus] M. M. & James B. Moyer. Fort Reno, Oklahoma Territory. 1891. [below neat line] Drawn by T. M. Fowler Morrisville Pa | A. E. Downs Lith. Boston | Published by T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer. [lower left and right below neat line: numbered key to 29 locations and landmarks]. Morrisville, Pennsylvania: T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer, 1891. Multi-stone lithograph bird’s-eye view on heavy paper, original full color. Overall sheet: 42 x 71 cm; image, title, and imprint: 30 x 61.8 cm. One minor tear to right blank margin neatly mended, a few light creases, but overall very good and fresh color.

     Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America 3167 (locating the Amon Carter copy). This historic print shows Fort Reno in 1891, when it was an active and pivotal fort in the closing of the West. A gathering of quaint military architecture and tents spread out against the backdrop of the Canadian River and the seemingly infinite green prairie and blue sky. Shown are small figures of soldiers and Native Americans (cavalry on drill, troops in formation, Natives loitering), wagons and buggies, artillery and other military equipment, pump- and ice-houses belching smoke, telegraph lines, corral, and train racing down the Choctaw RR track.

     Fort Reno was established in 1875 in Indian Territory in the heart of Canadian River Valley near the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation at the juncture of the Chisholm and Abilene trails. The purpose of the fort was to quell unrest among area tribes. The fort was first known as “Camp Near Cheyenne Agency,” but in 1876 was named for Lt. General Philip Sheridan's West Point classmate Major General Jesse L. Reno, who was killed early in the Civil War. A stockade was built where Sheridan conducted his Indian campaigns from his headquarters at the fort. After pacification, the U.S. Cavalry remained in the area to keep the peace. The Fort Reno troops helped locate and made several evictions of the "Boomers" from the Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory for ten years prior to the area being opened for settlement.

     Fort Reno played an important role in the great land runs of 1889, 1892, and 1894, when unassigned lands of the area opened for settlement. As the signal for the 1892 rush was given along the outer boundaries, Fort Reno soldiers kept order among the tsunami of rambunctious settlers who inundated the area. The cavalry and infantry stationed at Fort Reno also played an important role in the transition of the area from Indian Territory status to Oklahoma statehood in 1907. United States Cavalry units, including the Buffalo Soldiers (Black soldiers of the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry), and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Scouts, along with the U.S. Marshal Service, maintained the peace on the central plains until the turn of the century. The Cavalry and Cheyenne Police operated the "beef issue," distributing live Longhorn cattle for the Natives to chase and shoot like buffalo. In recent years the Cheyenne-Arapaho have been attempting to re-acquire the lands carved from their reservation to establish Fort Reno.

     Thaddeus M. Fowler was “the most prolific of all American city viewmakers, as artist, publisher, co-artist, or joint publisher of more than four hundred views” (Reps, p. 174). He began his independent viewmaking career in 1876 after working for others for about six years, and his career of representing small-town America spanned fifty years. Fowler traveled and drew all over the country, from New England to Montana and south to Texas. In 1890–91 he drew seventeen towns in Texas and Oklahoma, including Wolfe City, Quanah, and Denison. ($5,000-10,000)

Sold. Hammer: $8,500.00; Price Realized: $9,987.50

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