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Maltese Cross Cabin: Theodore Roosevelt’s Mobile Home

Maltese Cross Cabin: Theodore Roosevelt’s Mobile Home

On Theodore Roosevelt’s first trip to North Dakota in 1883, before he made Elkhorn Ranch his home, he stayed in a modest frontier cabin about seven miles south of Medora at Chimney Butte.  It was still the Dakota Territory then and the future President was bolstering his rawhide credentials.  The National Park Service has a nice page on the cabin here.

Maltese Cross Cabin, Chimney Butte

Above, the Maltese Cross Cabin at Chimney Butte, circa 1904, photo by Jospeh Kitchin. The cabin originally had a steep, pitched roof but according to a report by the Historic American Buildings Survey, it underwent structural changes in 1884 or ’85 and again in 1897 or ’98. Other modifications to the cabin are also visible in the photo above.  You can make out the timbers that were used to patch the doorway in the wall. Compare to the photo at the bottom… the door has been restored today.

Maltese Cross Cabin, World's Fair 1904

During Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidency, the Maltese Cross Cabin began touring the country. It is shown here at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and it was also shown at the Portland World’s Fair the following year.

Maltese Cross Cabin, World's Fair 1904

After traveling the country, the Maltese Cross Cabin came back to North Dakota and resided at what was then the State Fairgrounds in Fargo for a couple years before moving to the grounds of the State Capitol in Bismarck.

Maltese Cross Cabin, Bismarck

Above, the Maltese Cross Cabin when it was at the State Capitol in Bismarck, approximately 1909 to 1959.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Today, the Maltese Cross Cabin stands behind the visitor center at the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora and the original pitched roof has been recreated. Admission is free, there are guided tours and a very talented Theodore Roosevelt impersonator.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
More North American Bison

More North American Bison

We visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park in August of 2013 and photographed much of the scenery and the North American Bison that roam the park. This is just an additional batch of photos that we didn’t include in the original post.

North American Bison

These photos were taken in the south unit, near Medora, North Dakota. At the time of our visit, it was $10/vehicle to get into the park, and it occurred to us that you won’t find a better value for your money to experience the North Dakota Badlands.

North American Bison

North American Bison

This one had an itch that just had to be scratched.

North American Bison

North American Bison

“Hey! What are you looking at?”

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The North Dakota Badlands cover the southwestern third of the state and are part of a larger range of badlands which stretch south to White Butte and into South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.  These photos were taken in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, near Medora, North Dakota.

There is a certain romance in the landscape of badlands, and North Dakota’s are no exception.  You can’t help but be reminded of the all the moments in cinema history where the badlands were the backdrop, from westerns to post-apocalyptic thrillers.

North American Bison roam this park as well as wild horses and other wildlife.  Camping is available, as well as hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and more.

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Many of these photos are featured in our second book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 2.

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Scoria Point Overlook

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This is the Maltese Cross Cabin at the entrance to the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Theodore Roosevelt stayed here in 1883.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The cabin’s original location was seven miles south of Medora.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Marquis de Mores’ meat-packing plant once stood here. Now only the chimney remains.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This gentleman does a fantastic Theodore Roosevelt, right down to his turn of the century manner of speech.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Old West of Medora, North Dakota

The Old West of Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota is the leading tourist attraction in the state, so perhaps it’s apropos the population is only 112.  This is the biggest, most diverse little town you’ll ever visit — the hotel rooms outnumber the bedrooms in this town, and the streets are chock full — complete with antique and gift shops, saloons, museums, wildlife, scenery… the list is endless.  But don’t expect the typical, there’s not a McDonalds or any other franchise joint for miles.

Medora is the epicenter of North Dakota Old West lore, boasting historic figures from Theodore Roosevelt, who came to Medora in 1883 to hunt bison, to General Custer, who spent some of his final days here.  Painted Canyon is just down the Interstate.  The badlands scenery in Medora is incredible, and there’s a little something for everyone, from the musical to the pitchfork steak fondue.  There’s another gallery of badlands photos here.  We will likely visit many more times, because there is waaaayyyy more to see.

Medora, North Dakota

Above: The Rough Riders (spelled with a space, like the sign above the door) Hotel in 2013. Below: that’s the same hotel, on the left, 99 years earlier in 1914.

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, 1914

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt once rented the room upstairs.

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Board sidewalks in Medora.

Medora, North Dakota

St. Mary’s

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Marquis de Mores

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Badlands Part One: Painted Canyon

Badlands Part One: Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon Visitor Center is right off the north side of Interstate 94, a few miles east of Medora.  If you’re entering the Badlands from the east, this is your first chance to get a look at them from a scenic overlook, and it is amazing.

A more extensive gallery of the badlands as you see them from inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora is here.  Further south is White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota, where hints of a similar landscape crop up in the middle of green farmland.

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Warning: Unstable Ground

Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
North American Bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North American Bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

During their historic journey to the Pacific, Lewis and Clark reported enormous herds of North American Bison in the midwest, so large that they “darkened the whole plains.”  Wagon trains sometimes waited days for passage through herds numbering in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.  But by the early 1900’s the bison were reaching their low-point.  Over-hunting, drought, and encroachment on their natural habitat by humans and cattle drove the population of bison down to only several hundred animals (the actual number is disputed) — the bison were almost extinct.

North American Bison

Theodore Roosevelt came to North Dakota to hunt bison, and ironically became one of the first to recognize they needed to be saved. Yellowstone National Park had recently established a bison preserve, so with William Hornaday, former President Roosevelt founded the American Bison Society in 1905.  The United States established the National Bison Range in Montana in 1908.  These measures were the earliest of efforts that would eventually save the bison from extinction.

North American Bison

In 2013, the population of North American Bison was in the neighborhood of 500,000 and growing. Their genetic makeup, however, is different than the herds that once roamed the plains.  At the bison’s low-point, animals from private herds were used to propagate the species — animals which had been cross-bred with cattle.  Those cattle traits are plainly apparent in some of the bison you see pictured on this page.  Today, scientists estimate fewer than 5 percent — some say as few as 1.6 percent — of living bison are non-hybridized with cattle DNA.

In May of 2016, the National Bison Legacy Act became law, and the North American Bison became our official national mammal.

These photos were taken in the national park bearing Theodore Roosevelt’s name, in the south unit of the park near Medora, North Dakota. The unbelievable scenery coupled with the wildlife, the history, and the quaint, old west vibe make it North Dakota’s leading tourist destination.  If you visit North Dakota, you have to see this.  If you live in North Dakota, you have to see this.

See our video on this herd, here.

North American Bison

It’s a pretty cool thing to see when one of them stomps a hoof in the dirt, or drops down on the ground and starts rolling around in it.

North American Bison

This was our first time in the park, and the abundance of Bison made us think it’s like this all the time, but we’ve heard from some who say they visited TRNP and didn’t see any Bison at all. We consider ourselves lucky to have had this experience.

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

Get the photo shown above as a fine art print, suitable for framing, or as a museum-quality canvas print.

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Driving Through a Herd of North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Driving Through a Herd of North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

On our recent visit to North Dakota’s southwest corner, we spent some time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, and we were reminded of the magic of the Badlands.

For anyone who lives in eastern North Dakota in the flat lands which were once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz, it’s easy to forget that North Dakota is not entirely flat. As Terry and I entered the Badlands and caught our first look at Painted Canyon from the highway, we were literally bouncing up and down with excitement in the car.  We couldn’t wait to photograph the beautiful topography — gallery here.

Far and away, the highlight of our trip was getting to see the animal that brought Teddy Roosevelt to North Dakota in 1883 — North American Bison.  We mounted a video camera on top of my car and let it roll as we came upon the bison.  If you have a nice fast connection, make sure you check it out in HD, fullscreen.  There’s a photo gallery of the bison here.  Enjoy.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
White Butte

White Butte

White Butte is the highest point in the state of North Dakota at 3,506 feet above sea level. The peak is on private land and is not staffed. Of the 50 state highpoints, only seven are on private land — North Dakota, Nebraska, Maryland, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. There is no development of any kind at White Butte. The closest town, Amidon, had a population of 26 in the 2000 Census, and is the smallest county seat in the nation as the seat of Slope County. According to the 2010 Census, Slope is one of only two counties in the state with a population density of less than one person per square mile… a lot of wide open space out here.

The hike to the top of White Butte is fairly easy if you follow the path up the ridgeline to the summit.

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

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White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

 

White Butte

At the summit. The memorial at lower right is a tribute to the former property owner, Lawrence Buzalsky, who died in 1990.

White Butte

There is a summit log notebook in this box. We signed it and left a stack of postcards in the box, but we have yet to hear from anyone who got one.

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Thank you to R. David Adams for submitting these photos of the Fairview Lift Bridge and the accompanying Cartwright Tunnel, between Cartwright, North Dakota and Fairview, Montana.  This bridge is frequently confused with the Snowden Bridge, a few miles away in Montana, partly due to a similar history (each bridge has only been raised once) and construction. However, this bridge is distinct from the Snowden bridge when the Cartwright tunnel is taken into account.  To our knowledge, the tunnel is the only train tunnel in the state of North Dakota.

As you’ll learn from Mr. Adams’ comments below each photo, this lift bridge was built to accommodate steamboat traffic on the Yellowstone River, but the steamboats stopped steaming the Yellowstone River before the bridge was complete.  Thus the lift was only used one time.  The last car crossed the bridge in 1955, and the trains ended in the 1980’s.   Since the bridge and tunnel were so narrow, travelers were required to pick up a phone at one end and call to ensure no traffic was coming from the other side!

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

On ramp west end of Fairview Lift Bridge just a couple of miles East of Fairview Montana. This Bridge was finished in 1913 and was a bridge used for rail and automobile traffic until 1955.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Looking east as we walk on the rail bed. You can see the Cartwright tunnel at the end of the bridge.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Approaching the bridge support from the west looking east.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

The center section or “draw” weighs in at 1.14 Million Pounds. At each end of the span large concrete counterweights are hung to assist in the lifting of the span.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Platform that contains a three cylinder kerosene engine that lifts the bridge span.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Closer look at the lift mechanism. this lift operated one time to test the bridge and never again. It seems that steamship travel on the Yellowstone ended during the construction of the bridge in 1912!

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Looking up at one of the two counterweights. Held up by several 2 inch cables. I was thinking they have been there for almost a hundred years and decided to move… just in case!

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

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Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

On the east end approach showing the west tunnel opening.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Notice the size of the treated lumber used around the opening! Cars traveled across the top to gain access to the bridge on the right just behind where I was standing.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Inside the tunnel.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

The road that used to allow cars to use the bridge until 1955. right behind me the road slopes down to the bridge and also branches off to get down to the bridge abutments.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Looking west from the tunnel to the bridge.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Looking west.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

I climbed up the small hill on the south of the rail bed to get a better picture of the engine and tower houses that move the center span of the bridge up and down.

Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Just around the bend is the east entrance to the Tunnel but is now on private lands. Cartwright is just a mile to my back. To read more about this bridge, visit this site.

All photos by R. David Adams, copyright RDA Enterprises. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.