The Mr. & Mrs. Robert E. McKee III Family Fred Darge Collection

Rider and Packhorse

Oil on canvas board, 9″ x 12″, ca. 1936-1938

This scene is not unusual around a working ranch. Ranch hands were always on the go. A well-trained packhorse was valuable and frequently used, especially when transporting supplies by wagon wasn’t practical or time was of the essence. Ranch hands, moving to another workplace, might have a second horse to use for transporting personal belongings. A rider headed to a line camp would take a packhorse loaded with needed provisions. An unexpected event or situation might require a few vital supplies and a quick trip to the nearest store.

The background of this painting is Croton Mountain. The peak on the right is farther away and higher than the peak on the left, however from Darge’s angle, the peak on the left appears to be higher. The rider and packhorse are making their way down Oak Creek. During the era of summer painting trips prior to WW II, this mountain, south of the Sam Nail ranch, was close enough for a day at the easel. Darge was a close friend of the Nails and painted many paintings of their ranch and family members.

The exact location and topography of this painting was generously provided by Big Bend author, Ben H. English, of Alpine.

Gifted by Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. McKee, III

Mankato Style Spur Strap Buckles on Custom Straps by Baru Forrel