My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our Theodore Roosevelt National Park Experience - South Unit

There are three separate units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park:  The biggest is the South Unit which is also easily accessed from Highway 94, at Medora. The North Unit, which is much smaller, is about 70 miles north.  There is also Elkhorn Ranch Unit, where Roosevelt built his second ranch.  No buildings are left there because they were built of cottonwood, which rots quickly.

However, his first ranch house was located about seven  miles from the park's Visitor Center.  It was built of ponderosa pine so has endured and has been moved right behind the center. This is the place he bought after he came west to kill one of the last of the wild buffalo and to which he came back to grieve for his first wife and mother, who had died on the same day.

Bob and I went on a little tour led by an Intern Ranger and found it very interesting. Roosevelt was always an ardent naturalist and started doing taxidermy at the age of ten, but it was while he was living here that he developed his conservation ethic. He also felt that the life he lived at the Maltese Cross and Elkhorn Ranches prepared him to be president.

The cabin has three rooms - a living room, a kitchen, and Theodore Roosevelt's bedroom.  It also had a root cellar and a sleeping loft. It was considered luxurious for its time.

The Maltese cabin today

The kitchen

This was Roosevelt's rocking chair

Our interpreter in the living/dining area

Roosevelt's storage trunk that was in his bedroom
Roosevelt was, by far, our most environmental president. Our guide showed us a map showing all the parks and monuments that had been established by him. He was also responsible for the establishment of many national wildlife refuges.

As president, Roosevelt created five national parks (doubling the previously existing number); signed the landmark Antiquities Act and used its special provisions to unilaterally create 18 national monuments, including the Grand Canyon; set aside 51 federal bird sanctuaries, four national game refuges, and more than 100 million acres' worth of national forests.He also created 50 wildlife refuges, commencing with Florida's Pelican Island.  For more detailed information, click here.

Our country would be a much different and poorer place without all the lands Roosevelt set aside for the use of wildlife and for our recreation.

And here are a few pictures from the auto tour of the refuge as well as from the Painted Canyon Visitor Center.  We stayed at the refuge two days and on the third day we broke camp, hiked to the Petrified Forest and then moved to the North Unit.

I'm writing this from the Grand Marais Library on Saturday, September 9. My friends are indeed driving straight through from Texas and will arrive this evening.  I''m camping in Finland State Forest but will go meet them tonight. Tomorrow we'll get everything rechecked and packed so we will be able to leave early Monday morning. I'm sure I'll have a couple of blogs about this trip to one of my favorite places on earth. Last year, I had material for three blogs.  This was my favorite blog from that time.

The adventures continue.