Priest’s research focused on creating a pictorial narrative of the development and construction of Stewart’s Canal by enslaved persons. He met with historian John Creighton, a Maryland historian and genealogist. Maryland U.S. Parks Department specialists also provided research material on the plausible methods used by slaves to dig the canal.
Priest began by doing drawings on location. Once the initial drawings were completed he focused on utilizing an impressionist palate and created four paintings ranging in sizes 48” x 81” to 75” x 60” and one large lithograph.