Hamburg Winter Sky

Tonight I was looking through my Grandmother’s scrapbooks again. I was actually looking for something about Pearl Harbor, and couldn’t find anything. However, I did find this gem in a scrapbook from 1956.

George Shane Painting - Hamburg, Iowa - Vapor Trails

This came from a series of Iowa main streets painted for Picture Magazine by George Shane.

George Shane studied with Grant Wood and was also a journalist for the Des Moines Register. He is known for painting pictures of town squares, courthouses, local landmarks, and century farms. He would also write brief histories for some of them and they would be used in the Sunday supplement for the newspaper. I want to do more research on George Shane and see more of his work.

This picture will bring back memories for my friends who have ties to Hamburg, Iowa. I remember snowy days on Main Street in Hamburg while visiting my grandparents.

In this picture we see two children who are probably on their way to go sledding on the bluff. They are looking up in the sky at vapor trails that are left by jets that are taking off or landing at Offut Field to the North near Omaha.

In the 1950’s vapor trails or contrails were still relatively new, but were becoming more common. Today, we hardly notice them at all.

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into an Iowa winter long ago.


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17 Responses to Hamburg Winter Sky

  1. This image is wonderful. I love how the sledding children in the foreground draw your eyes upward to the vapor trail.

  2. Glenda McDougal says:

    Resembles our small town squares in Arkansas!! Great image …

  3. alakate says:

    You have to wonder what happened to all of George Shane’s paintings!

  4. Sheryl says:

    Great picture! I like the way the colors, and the use of space, give a sense of energy and vibrancy.

  5. Gary Bryant says:

    Lived just south of Hamburg in the 50’s and remember the military planes from Offut Air Force Base. It was a wonderful time to be a child.

  6. ljhlaura says:

    What a compelling image … love it.

  7. Boomdeeadda says:

    I’ve always loved that era for illustrations. I like the colours the artist choose to depict the town. I also like the sleigh the kids are taking to the hill, reminds me of the one we had. Wish we’d kept it, probably gave it away when we got ‘crazy carpets’…geez we weren’t too smart.

  8. vanbraman says:

    We had a sled like the one in the picture when we lived in Iowa. No need for one here :-).

  9. Jason says:

    This is beautiful.

    I am an investigative reporter at the Des Moines register and a George Shane collector. If you do a search, you will probably see a picture of him with Salvador Dali that I believe is in the University of Iowa collections.

    Thank you for sharing!!

    Jason Clayworth

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  13. The arching contrails are unique; usually, they are straight.

    • vanbraman says:

      The contrails were probably left by jets that were on training flights out of Offut in Omaha. Remember also this is a painting and not a picture so there is probably a bit or artistic license in the portrayal of the contrails.

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