The Saga of the 1881 Pony Express Cabin

A Plein Air Painting Adventure > For almost 50 years, watercolor artist Buffalo Kaplinski has aspired to paint a log cabin near Franktown, Colorado that was surrounded by “other shacks and a lot of junk, including those old-time gasoline pumps, old trucks, farm implements, and redneck stuff.” Then one day he noticed demolition equipment joined the landscape.

Pony Express Route cabin
The cabin is reported to have been built in 1881 and was part of the Pony Express Route.

Understanding the fate of this charming remnant of a cabin, Buffalo visited the site with his plein air watercolor setup. The highway side proved too loud and unpleasant, so he visited a second time, moving to the back side of the cabin. Before long, he had a visitor.

“I did my usual drawing and was just getting water to paint when a big black truck drove up,” Buffalo said. “The driver had a military-type haircut and a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth. He asked, ‘What are you doing? … You’re on my land.’”

The driver told Buffalo about previous trespassers who created problems, such as returning to the highway with excess mud on their tires from the trek back. Eventually, the driver left and Buffalo finished the painting, adding Pike’s Peak to the background to give the composition more visual interest.

Plein air painting / watercolor by Buffalo Kapinski
Plein air watercolor by Buffalo Kaplinski

A week later, the historic cabin was gone, preserved now in two watercolor paintings.

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