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National Rivers Hall of Fame Inductees

Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, explorers and artists in America's river history. They were movers and shakers from the days gone by and the recent past. These men and women made significant contributions related to America’s rivers, which is why we honor them.


The Artists, Writers, and Musicians

John Banvard

Inducted in 2022

Banvard (1815-1891) used his innate artistic talents to paint a “three-mile long” and 12-foot high masterpiece termed “Barnvard’s Panorama of the Mississippi River, Being the Largest Painting Ever Executed by Man.”

The painting was a 400-day effort that took Barnvard from the mouth of the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico in a skiff in the early 1840’s, mapping every detail he saw along the way from towns, camps, boats, all the way to the plants along the riverbank. He brought his sketches back to his home in Louisville, Kentucky where he worked several years on the diorama, a final product featuring 38 scenes in total.

After its premiere in his home state, Barnvard took his artwork to Boston, New York, and Washington before the allure caught international attention and landed him in London where the piece spent 20 weeks on display, including a command performance for Queen Victoria. In 1862, Barnvard revised his painting with scenes from the War of the Rebellion and the connection to naval engagements broadened the painting’s interest to a new audience.

Barnvard took the remainder of his panorama to Watertown, South Dakota where he settled with his children before his passing in 1891. While there are no remnants of the grand painting, other works of Barnvard’s reside with the Minnesota Historical Society.