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"Teddy Roosevelt's Legacy of Land," The Oregonian, 10 August 2003

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  • prosperena
    The following article from the 10 August 2003 Oregonian was sent to me by a friend in Portland. I ve cut-and-pasted the article from the Lexis-Nexis website
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 22, 2003
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      The following article from the 10 August 2003 "Oregonian" was sent to
      me by a friend in Portland. I've cut-and-pasted the article from the
      Lexis-Nexis website (copyright noted). I thought it might be of
      interest to the group and I don't recall seeing it mentioned in the
      list. The original article was the main cover story for the "Travel"
      section that Sunday and is accompanied by a number of large color
      photos and several sidebars with additional information, all of which
      can be accessed via the Search box at www.oregonlive.com
      Kari E. Johnson

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Copyright 2003 The Sunday Oregonian

      The Sunday Oregonian

      August 10, 2003 Sunday SUNRISE EDITION
      Correction Appended

      SECTION: TRAVEL; Pg. T01

      LENGTH: 2514 words

      HEADLINE: TEDDY ROOSEVELT'S LEGACY OF LAND

      SOURCE: TERRY RICHARD - The Oregonian

      BODY:
      Summary: Ranching near North Dakota's Badlands shaped a young T.R.'s
      ethic of conservation, which impelled him as president to preserve
      wild lands

      The sun was lighting the vast expanse of the eastern prairie when an
      unexpected animal noise drifted through the Burning Coal Vein
      campground in the Badlands of North Dakota.

      "Gobble, gobble, gobble!"

      Then again.

      "Gobble, gobble, gobble!"

      A rooster at dawn may have been expected, but a wild turkey?

      Nevertheless, the turkey's wake-up call was unmistakable. It was time
      to start another beautiful spring day. The temperature was crisp, in
      the 40s, but in another few hours it would be baking in the 80s.

      Mornings are often the best time of day on the North Dakota
      grasslands.

      Two mule deer wandered through camp. Mourning doves began to coo. A
      ring-necked pheasant crowed. A western meadowlark, state bird for
      both North Dakota and Oregon, added its delightful song to the melody
      of the morning.

      Herds of Audubon bighorn sheep (now extinct) used to roam here, along
      with bison (now restricted to national parks) and grizzly bear and
      gray wolf (now confined to the mountains). But much of the wildness
      of the Great Plains endures.

      It was the bounty of wildlife that drew a 24-year-old New Yorker to
      the northern plains in 1883. Theodore Roosevelt, who would become the
      26th president of the United States, spent about 300 days over 10
      years in North Dakota.

      T.R. (as he is referred to by those who know his life story) arrived
      initially to hunt buffalo, then sank roots as a cattle rancher, where
      local cowboys gave him the nickname "Ol' Four Eyes" in reference to
      his eyeglasses.

      He shot his bull bison that first September, but scarcely a month
      later, the last great herd of 10,000 bison had been reduced to 1,200.
      The precipitous loss of the bison had a lifelong effect on a man who
      many believe to be the greatest conservationist in American history.

      Naturalists Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Aldo Leopold may have
      been more profound in their writings, but no one accomplished more
      than Roosevelt.

      After he became president, Roosevelt realized that the great flocks
      of birds were going the way of the buffalo. Plume hunters were
      slaughtering the East's last colony of brown pelicans to collect
      feathers, leaving carcasses to rot. To stop the carnage, Roosevelt
      issued an executive order to protect the birds and create the first
      national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida.

      The centennial of the national refuge system -- which grew to 52
      units during his presidency -- is being celebrated this year. Similar
      observances will continue at many of the nation's most cherished
      public lands through 2009, the final year during the centennial of
      Roosevelt's presidency.

      His amazing list of achievements includes creation of Oregon's Crater
      Lake National Park; preservation of Arizona's Grand Canyon and
      Petrified Forest as national monuments, later to become national
      parks; and a 400-fold expansion of the national forest system by
      protecting Oregon's Deschutes and Wallowa-Whitman forests, among
      scores of others.

      Nowhere, though, is a place more closely associated with Roosevelt as
      a conservationist than the Badlands that he so loved as a young man.
      The sparse grazing land where his cattle ranged was preserved in 1947
      as a memorial park, later to be upgraded by Congress in 1978 to
      Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

      Wild turkeys gobble there today. A small herd of bison roams freely
      inside the park's fenced boundary. California bighorn sheep have
      supplanted the extinct Audubon species.

      And "prairie dog towns," where hundreds of prairie dogs cavort,
      endlessly amuse the 500,000 visitors a year who make the convenient
      detour into the park when driving Interstate 94 through western North
      Dakota.

      Back in Roosevelt's day, it was the railroad that brought the first
      tourists to western North Dakota in the 1880s.

      A sign on an old train depot on the main street of Medora, the park's
      gateway town, lists the mileage to the nearest key cities on the
      line -- 594 miles east to St. Paul, Minn., and 1,457 miles west to
      Portland. The street is wistfully named Pacific Avenue.

      More than a century after the arrival of the railroad, it's still a
      long way to just about anywhere from the Badlands. North Dakota is
      the nation's least-visited state, but it's also the least expensive
      for tourists, who often link Theodore Roosevelt National Park with a
      trip to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, or to the Little Bighorn
      Battlefield in Montana. Hoping to lure more visitors during the Lewis
      and Clark bicentennial, North Dakota is raising $2.9 million for
      tourism marketing through an additional 1 percent sales tax on
      lodging.

      But isolation is one of the great attractions of western North
      Dakota, which continues to buck a national trend by losing
      population -- down 1 percent to 634,110 since the 2000 census. Fargo,
      the state's largest city, has a population of 90,787, about the size
      of Gresham.

      The Badlands, 300 miles west of Fargo, are a 100-by-20-mile north-
      south corridor of fantastically eroded prairie near the Little
      Missouri River. The prairie skies are free of pollution, allowing
      countless stars to twinkle at night. The quiet is so complete you can
      almost feel it. And a raw, exposed earth changes hues subtly, from
      red to orange to brown to gray, as the sun crosses the sky.

      About 10 percent is inside the twin units of the 70,000-acre national
      park. The South Unit, near Medora and I-94, absorbs about 90 percent
      of the visitors. The North Unit, 70 miles away near Watford City,
      offers some of the best national park solitude south of Alaska.

      Elkhorn Ranch on the Little Missouri, the second of Roosevelt's two
      North Dakota ranches, is midway between the units. Although the
      buildings have blended back into the prairie, the park service is
      negotiating to purchase the surrounding land to create a 22,000-acre
      Theodore Roosevelt National Preserve.

      Roosevelt's first ranch, the Maltese Cross, was eight miles south of
      Medora. His cabin, displayed in Portland nearly a century ago during
      the Lewis and Clark Exposition, has been restored and relocated to
      the park's visitor center at Medora.

      The rest of the Badlands are part of the Little Missouri National
      Grassland, or private ranches.

      The 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive through the South Unit brings visitors
      into intimate contact with the park, mostly at scenic overlooks and
      via short hiking trails. A 14-mile road does the same in the North
      Unit.

      Binoculars for viewing wildlife come in handy at the South Unit's
      Wind Canyon, an overlook of the silt-laden Little Missouri as the
      river snakes through its cottonwood-lined channel at the edge of a
      grassy plain.

      Three male bison climb the hillside to the right. Another two-dozen
      bison, including four yearlings, graze amid a prairie dog town. The
      rodents keep their distance from the shaggy beasts, barking at every
      imagined intrusion and performing gymnastic leaps at the entries to
      their burrows.

      An adult bison lies on one of the rodents' bare mounds, squirming
      around as it gives itself a dust bath. A brown cloud rises 20 feet in
      the air.

      Another herd of bison grazes atop a rim in the distance. Four wild
      horses swish their tails against the flies. A white-tailed deer fords
      the foot-deep river. A turkey vulture flies overhead. A coyote limps
      through the field, one of its front paws showing an injury.

      When the coyote notices a human, it ignores the pain in its foot and
      lopes away at full speed.

      If T.R. had been there, his rifle would have been blazing. He was an
      ardent conservationist, but he was also one of the most famous
      hunters of his generation, although nearly early everything he shot
      was either to fill the cook pot or for scientific research.

      The list of Theodore Roosevelt's accomplishments is larger than life.

      He was called the Rough Rider for leading the 1st Volunteer Cavalry
      up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. He was an
      African big-game hunter . . . an Amazon explorer . . . and a prolific
      chronicler of his adventures who authored 42 books, including his
      classic "The Wilderness Hunter," which is still in print. He was a
      founder of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and hunting's
      Boone and Crockett Club . . . governor of New York . . . father of
      the Panama Canal and "big stick" diplomacy . . . inspiration for the
      teddy bear. He was the first president to fly an airplane . . . to
      submerge in a submarine . . . to own a car . . . to have a home
      telephone . . . to travel outside the country while in office . . .
      to entertain an African American (Booker T. Washington) in the White
      House. And he was the winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for
      mediating the Sino-Japanese War.

      Roosevelt said his life would not the same but for his ranching days
      in the Badlands.

      "I would not have been president," Roosevelt said in a speech at
      Fargo in 1910, "if it hadn't been for my experience in North Dakota."

      Bruce Kaye, the national park naturalist at Medora, smiles when he
      hears the quote.

      "T.R. said the same thing about his visits to Montana. He was the
      consummate politician," Kaye said. "But there's an obvious ring of
      truth to it. T.R. was a Harvard College graduate, a bit of snob when
      he came to North Dakota. He lived a tough life here and learned to
      work with tough people. His time in North Dakota taught him his
      conservation ethic."

      After his first trip to North Dakota, Roosevelt returned to New York
      for the winter, only to have his first wife and mother die on the
      same day (Valentine's Day in 1884) of different causes, (his mother
      from typhoid, his wife from kidney failure) in different rooms of his
      house.

      He headed out West again, determined to immerse himself in the cattle
      business, although drought, severe winters and the end of the open
      range combined to drive him out of ranching.

      But by then, his political star was rising back East, although
      Republican party bosses wanted to keep his political ambitions in
      check. So in 1900 they nominated him as William McKinley's vice
      president -- a position considered to be a career killer.

      A half-year after the inauguration, McKinley was assassinated.
      Roosevelt, at 42, became the nation's youngest president.

      With the West being carved into small pieces by developers, Roosevelt
      sought the counsel of the great conservationists of the day -- Muir,
      John Burroughs, Gifford Pinchot, George Bird Grinnell. Unlike some
      conservationists -- then and now -- Roosevelt never believed that all
      resources should be locked up; rather, he wanted to ensure that they
      be used wisely and passed on to future generations.

      One day, he asked his staff whether anything prevented him from
      protecting Wyoming's Devils Tower. When he learned there was no
      restriction, he created the nation's first national monument, in 1906.

      That opened the floodgates.

      By the end of his seven-and-a-half years in office he had created 51
      national wildlife refuges, five national parks and 18 national
      monuments, and protected 150 million acres in 150 national forests.

      He remembered fondly in his own writings how he outwitted Congress
      and Oregon Sen. Charles Fulton to protect 16 million acres of
      national forests in the Northwest.

      In 1907, Fulton was pressing a rider to the agricultural
      appropriations bill that would leave the forests open to land
      grabbers and special interests. Because Roosevelt didn't want to veto
      the bill, he signed a presidential proclamation to protect the
      forests before he signed the bill. Then he challenged Congress to
      overturn his deed.

      It declined.

      The jury is still out on some of his decisions. He created 24
      reclamation projects, including one in Oregon's Klamath Basin, where
      the use of irrigation water is hotly contested to this day.

      But there's no argument about what he did on March 2, 1909, during
      his final days as president. He created Mount Olympus National
      Monument, which later became the centerpiece of Olympic National
      Park, the most visited federal park in the Pacific Northwest.

      Visitors to Theodore Roosevelt National Park will never confuse the
      scenery in North Dakota with Washington's verdant Olympic Peninsula.
      The Badlands have been described as "hell with the fires put out" by
      soldiers and as "no-good land" by the native Sioux. Roosevelt called
      them a "land of vast silent spaces, a place of grim beauty."

      But that grim beauty is the state's number one tourist attraction,
      causing Medora, a sleepy little town of 100 residents, to morph into
      a city capable of entertaining a half-million visitors from June
      through August.

      Among the area's first tourists were the Marquis de Mores, a French
      aristocrat, who arrived to found a cattle empire right about the time
      Roosevelt was trying to make a go of ranching. De Mores brought his
      wife, Medora von Hoffman, and named his town for her.

      The daughter of a New York investment baker, Medora brought a rare
      bit of refinement to the North Dakota prairie, teaching her two
      children music and art along with horseback riding.

      The couple's 26-room Chateau de Mores, maintained by the state as one
      of North Dakota's main historical landmarks, still crowns a hill
      overlooking the Little Missouri.

      After the cattle industry went bust in the late 1880s and the
      family's cattle packing plant burned down in 1907, the town of Medora
      was all but forgotten.

      Then along came Harold Schafer, born in 1912 on a small farm near
      Stanton, N.D. Curious and inventive, he created the Gold Seal Co.
      during World War II. By 1960 the company had expanded to produce
      Glass Wax, Snowy Bleach and Mr. Bubble, each the No. 1 selling
      product in the world in its category at one time.

      Before he died in 2001, Schafer bequeathed part of his fortune to
      create the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, a nonprofit company
      that owns and manages half of Medora's businesses and produces its
      summer shows.

      The foundation does $6 million in business each summer, much of it
      from the nightly Medora Musical, a Western variety show that is the
      top entertainment draw in the state.

      The success of the 2,500-seat outdoor musical has allowed the
      foundation to invest in other attractions, among them horseback trail
      rides, mountain biking on the 100-mile Maah Daah Hey single-track
      trail, mini-golf, several small museums, a dollhouse, children's
      playground and a one-person play about Roosevelt called "Bully," a
      reference to Roosevelt's nickname for the presidency as a "bully
      pulpit." (The phrase is derived from the British use of "bully" to
      mean good or wonderful and "pulpit" to mean a platform from which to
      advocate an agenda.)

      Next spring, the foundation will open a stunning 18-hole, 7,300-yard
      golf course two miles south of town along the Little Missouri, where
      Gen. George Armstrong Custer camped in 1876 on his way to his last
      stand at the Little Bighorn in Montana.

      Surrounded by the rainbow hues of the Badlands, the Bully Pulpit Golf
      Course is destined to become another North Dakota legend. Terry
      Richard: 503-221-8222 terryrichard@...

      CORRECTION-DATE: August 12, 2003 Tuesday

      CORRECTION:
      Published correction ran: Tuesday, August 12, 2003:

      * President Theodore Roosevelt won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for
      mediating the Russo-Japanese War. A story and sidebar in Sunday's
      Travel section gave the incorrect war.

      GRAPHIC: 2 Color photos; 5 Color Photos by TERRY RICHARD - of The
      Oregonian staff ; Sidebar text -- DID YOU KNOW THAT THEODORE
      ROOSEVELT...; Sidebar text -- T.R.'S FORESTS, REFUGES, PARKS AND
      MONUMENTS Sidebar text -- T.R. BIOGRAPHY; Sidebar text -- IF YOU GO:
      THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK
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