"Indians Demanding Wagon Toll"
This oil-on-canvas mural entitled “Taking Toll” (a.k.a. “Indians Demanding Wagon Toll”) was painted in 1939 by Leo J. Beaulaurier. The work is installed above the Postmaster’s door at the Langdon, North Dakota post office. According to a local newspaper story, this was the first Federal building artwork to be sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Section of Fine Arts program in the state; the local Postmaster was quoted as saying that Langdon was the smallest city in the nation to be “granted a mural.” (The source for this information is an un-cited article, dated Oct. 12, 1939, included in the National Archives project folder for this work.)
Beaulaurier also painted murals for the Billings, Montana post office.
“Taking Toll” depicts “a tribe of Indians stopping a wagon train to exact the toll paid by white men for the privilege of crossing their lands.” The work was further influenced by the artist’s “studies of the geology and topography of North Dakota.” His research and planning resulted in Beaulaurier’s initial sketches of the painting being accepted without changes. (Un-cited article, National Archives)
The contract for the work was issued May 12, 1939, and Mr. Beaulaurier was paid $700 for his efforts. Langdon Postmaster R. T. Burke wrote of the newly installed mural in a letter dated October 18, 1939:
“We are pleased with it ‘beyond words’ … The local paper gave us a very fine writeup, and have had just hundreds of people admire it. … It also carries a significant history appeal, which is of much value.”
Originally posted in the New Deal Art Registry: http://www.newdealartregistry.org/
National Archives Record Group 121, Entry 133: Case Files Concerning Embellishments of Federal Buildings, Box 65, Langdon, ND folder.
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