Work begins on second City Front painting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Herb Roe adds color to the hills of Vicksburg on the floodwall at City Front as a tanker passes by on Kansas City Railroad tracks Tuesday.(The Vicksburg PostMELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/27/02]The Belle of the Bends packet boat steams down the Mississippi flanked by a houseboat and a flatboat as the skyline of Vicksburg appears at the horizon.

The depiction is Louisiana artist Robert Dafford’s vision of the city in the late 1800s and will be the second mural on the floodwall at City Front. It is part of an ongoing project with the city and a citizens committee to place images reflecting the history of Vicksburg on 14 sections of the wall in downtown.

Additional landscaping and building improvements are also planned in the area under the guidance of city officials.

Work on the painting, 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide, began Monday and is expected to take two weeks.

“Our dream is finally becoming a reality,” said Nellie Caldwell, chairman of the city’s mural committee.

The Belle of the Bends was built in Jeffersonville, Ind., in 1898 and traded along the Mississippi River between Vicksburg and Greenville until sinking near Fitler in September 1909.

The boat was later raised, but sank again in 1910 and then raised a second time and renamed the Liberty. The 210-foot-long vessel continued in service until 1919.

The Belle led the parade of boats for the opening of the Yazoo Diversion Canal in Vicksburg in 1902 and was part of the party when President Theodore Roosevelt came to the Delta that same year for his famous bear hunt.

The mural at City Front is the second and is being sponsored by Ergon Inc., which put up $15,000. Caldwell said the mural committee is hoping to find others to fund more murals.

“We are hunting sponsors for all of these sections,” she said.

Each will be separated with a border with a rendering of a pierced column, an architectural feature of many homes in Vicksburg named because of the cut-out designs in the columns.

In 2001, a city committee selected a work by Vicksburg artist Martha Ferris to go on one section of the wall. Half the $15,000 project was funded by the Mississippi Arts Commission. The city is seeking a second grant to help fund another mural on the wall.

The floodwall runs parallel to the Yazoo Diversion Canal west of downtown.