By: Willard Frederick Elms
Date: 1950 (circa) Chicago
Dimensions: 22 x 16 inches (56 x 40.5 cm)
This is a fine example of Frederick Elm's mid-century poster of Red Cliffs Continental Divide produced for the Santa Fe Railway. The scene presents a local family enjoying a walk through the southern end of the continental divide in New Mexico, where all the water at the base of the cliffs runs southeast towards the Gulf of Mexico. The title font is deliberately tall like the cliffs and the Santa Fe Railway punctuates the lower right corner. The signature of the artist ELMS can be found at the bottom of the work.
The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) was founded in 1859 at the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. The railway was largely responsible for "settling the west" by establishing a number of real estate offices to sell farmland through land grants awarded to them by congress. This further generated demand for railway service extension and frequency of travel. Eventually, the company offered a bus line service to help passengers reach unique and remote destinations not unsuitable for a major railroad. At one time, the ATSF operated a tugboat fleet, ferryboats in San Francisco, and a short-lived airline known as the Santa Fe Skyway. In 1996 the railway merged with its northern counterpart the Burlington Northern to become the BNSF Railway we know today.
Frederick Willard Elms (1900 - 1950) began his professional career as a teacher for the Art Institute of Chicago. While in Chicago, he sold many of his works through the Sears Roebuck catalog and at one time worked as an announcer for WGN Radio, which at the time was one of the primary national broadcasts. In 1949, he moved to Tucson, Arizona where he focused on scenes of the southwest and Native Americans. In the 1950s he was commissioned to create posters for the San Fe Railway of which this was one of several.
Condition: This poster is in B+ condition, with lavish color on clean paper. There is on 1.5" tear in the lower margin that does enter the image and two more smaller ones to the left that are confined to the margin. The poster has been linen-backed for preservation and presentation purposes.
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