On a winter day the train rushes through Echo Canyon past Pulpit Rock. In Connie Madsen's oil painting, the train speeds coal and passengers along what was once was a simple trail, but was one of the most important passages for pioneers and western settlers. The trip through Echo Canyon was an arduous journey made on foot, by wagon, on horseback, or with handcarts. The Pony Express traveled through, as did the Overland Express, and eventually the first transcontinental telegraph line, and finally the Lincoln Highway, and Interstate 80. But between the wagon train years and the current Interstate, the Union Pacific laid down track and forever changed travel and commerce heading west. Madsen says that she enjoys preserving history and things from the past, so painting an early train going around Echo Junction was an easy choice. In her depiction of that early travel, the train speeding through the landscape gives the sense that the land itself has joined in the jubilant motion. The steam from the engine billows back, and the snow of the foreground seems similarly windswept, as does the snow lacing the rocks at the point of the canyonÉ as if the rock itself has transformed into a massive steam engine.
Connie Madsen was born and raised in Bountiful, Utah, where she met her husband. She took a painting class from the University of Utah and really loved it. But the marriage and six children came along, "and painting was the least thing on my mind," Madsen says. The family moved to Coalville, and about ten years laterÑalmost by accidentÑshe took a painting class with Carol France. "A friend invited me to watch her paint at Carol France's little studio for oil painters," Madsen says. "Carol must have thought I was there to paint because she handed me a canvas and taught me everything I know." Madsen has been painting ever since. She enjoys painting just about anything, and has won multiple awards in art shows throughout the years, her favorites being Copper Plate and People's Choice awards from the Summit County Fair. She shares her talent with others by teaching painting classes to youth.