During the Celeron expedition,
Father Bonnecamp describes in his journal a massive Cottonwood tree
they found on the banks of the Ohio. His narrative tells of twenty-nine
men sitting side-by side around the inside of a huge hollow tree.
Cottonwood, however, are not native to the area and research indicates
that he was probably describing a sycamore. In his image of this
gathering, Griffing depicts the tree as a sycamore but out of respect
for the historical documentation of Father Bonnecamp, the piece
is titled with the Cottonwood reference.
Griffing's painting of this magnificent tree captures a moment of
our history that is fascinating and often overlooked. Another interesting
facet of the painting is the illustration of the immense cargo canoes
used by the expedition. The need to transport over 200 men, supplies,
and trade goods made these large canoes indispensable for their
travel into the frontier.