Sunday, February 17, 2013

Urness 1953-54

Day 3 (2/3/13)
As I continue to follow leads and send out e-mails I am slowly but surely finding new details of Al Urness’ trip south but I still have not found any more of his art. Somewhere there has to be a stash of his work, if nothing else his diary. I know that he displayed some of his miniature work at Eastern Montana College in 1955 but after that I haven’t been able to find anything. In the March 27th Billings Gazette, I also found reference to Urness doing a mural in St Joseph, Missouri but again have found no examples of his work.  At any rate in this blog I am going to concentrate on his travels of 1953 and 54. He left Intake on July 1st 1953 with outriggers and a new double paddle, and made it to the Missouri River on July 11th. According to the July 14th, 53 Bismarck Tribune “Urness took his first dunking of the year just north of Williston, Montana shortly after starting out for the year. Since he was wearing a life belt he claimed that no damage was done”. The next we hear of Urness is in November of 53 when he drifts into Chamberlain South Dakota. At Chamberlain he makes the second portage of his trip when the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers offer to give him and his boat a ride to Pickstown S.D. so he can avoid the slow current of the reservoir. The 1953 portion of his trip concluded in Vermillion S.D. on Oct 20th. In the spring Urness left Vermillion and headed again down the Missouri River. Finally he reached the Mississippi River on November 21st 1954. He continued on to Cairo, Illinois and arrived December 6th. Here he spent the winter at the Tri State Boat Club on the Ohio River. By now he had become somewhat of a celebrity and at this point Urness said his kayak had been photographed over thirty times for various news papers and appeared on television programs at Sioux City, Iowa Omaha, Nebraska and St Josephs, Missouri not to mention radio shows. Over the last three years he had accumulated around 150 miniature paintings and pencil sketches with color notes and he expected to double that before the journeys end.