Kentucky: Entering the Great Valley

Frontiers people on horseback and walking through a forest
First mural in the George Rogers Clark Memorial

NPS Photo/Credit Tom Bartholomew

Upon the walls of the memorial rotunda, seven murals depict the Clark expedition story. The murals, which are oil on linen, stand 28 feet (8.5 meters) tall and 16 feet (4.9 meters) long. It would take artist Ezra Winter and six assistants two years to complete them.

This mural depicts George Rogers Clark on a white horse leading settlers across the Allegheny Mountains.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, American colonists were prohibited from living West of the Appalachian Mountains by the British Proclamation Line of 1763. The British passed this law because they knew they could not control significant numbers of Americans in the western frontier should too many move there. However, some Americans decided to disregard this law. During the decade leading up to the war, more and more American settlers decided to try their fortunes in the far western frontier. While most Americans today think of the western frontier being in the Great Plains and involving wagon trains on the Oregon or Santa Fe trails, the western frontier during the Revolutionary War period included the present day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

George Rogers Clark was born in Virginia in 1752. During 1772, at the age of 20, he moved west to the Ohio River Valley. He was quickly recognized as a leader in this area. By 1777, he was in command of the Kentucky Militia.

By the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, significant numbers of American settlers had begun to make their homes on the western frontier. However, this area, like the 13 original colonies, was still under British control. The Proclamation Line of 1763 had not held, and British forces were about to find out how their limited resources would be able to contend with these western American settlers.

Mural 2 - Cahokia: Peace or War with the Indians

Last updated: May 26, 2023

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