Leaving the the Enchanted Highway we finally got back on the road to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. It was on the eastern part of the state fairly close to the border of Montana. The park was basically divided into three areas that were very much alike except for the things that there were to do and see in each of them. The South section right off of I-90. The North section about 35 miles north of the southern part. And then the old farm section which is just about in the middle of the two other sections.
For all of you have been to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, you may see some similarities in it and Theodore Roosevelt National Park here in North Dakota. In fact you may think you are there. It even has an area called the Badlands within the park too.
Theodore Roosevelt came to the North Dakota Badlands in September 1883 to hunt buffalo. By the end of his 15 day hunting trip, he had entered the cattle business with the purchase of the Chimney Butte Ranch, also known as the Maltese Cross Ranch.
After the disastrous winter of 1886-87, Roosevelt lost approximately 60% of his cattle. Although now living full time in New York, he continued to maintain both his ranches; the Elkhorn remaining his center of operation. After a late summer visit to the Elkhorn in 1890, Roosevelt apparently abandoned the ranch. On October 20 he wrote to a friend (Sewall) stating, " ... This is the last year I shall keep the ranch house open; I have just parted with Merrifield. Sylvane will take care of the cattle now."
Roosevelt's last known visit to the Elkhorn was in 1892. He sold the ranch and buildings to Sylvane Ferris in 1898. Gradually the buildings were stripped of their furnishings and, according to a local stockman, by 1901 "every scrap of the Elkhorn Ranch had disappeared with the exception of a couple of half rotted foundations."
It is said that if Teddy Roosevelt had never come to this area for his cathartic life changing event process, he would have never turned out to be much of anything in life, let alone the President of the United States. Of course I didn't have that feeling, about it, but maybe if I would have stayed there through the winter, I may have felt different about it. But when I found out that Winters are cold and windy with brief warming spells.
Average highs are in the 20s and 30s and average lows are in the single digits and snowfall averages 30 inches per year, I decided that I wanted to be neither a Rough Rider nor President of the United States anyway.
Theodore Roosevelt said the badlands were "so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth." It's easy to try and discover the "grim fairyland" of Theodore Roosevelt National Park's geologic formations just by looking at any part of this park.
Theodore Roosevelt's experiences here in the North Dakota badlands shaped his adult life, helping him become the Rough Rider, the President, and the world's leading land conservationist. Today, by car (or back packing) you can explore the rugged badlands terrain, watch wildlife (a lot of bison), relax in the shade of a cottonwood tree, and enjoy the lifestyle and scenes that charmed Mr. Roosevelt. "It was here that the romance of my life began."
~ Theodore Roosevelt