Theodore Roosevelt
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1. Bessie Tisdale Tracey, Campfire Songs of the Peaceful Valley Ranch (N.p., 1927), unpaginated. The National Parks Highway, as envisioned by the Association, would have generally followed the route of U. S. 10 (now Interstate 94) from Fargo to the Cascades. See Albert H. Yoder, "The Proposed Roosevelt Memorial Park," The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota 15:1 (November 1924), 47.

2. Quote from Joint Committee on Recreational Survey of Federal Lands, Recreation Resources of Federal Lands (Washington, DC: National Conference on Outdoor Recreation, 1928), 54. See also Robert Shankland, Steve Mather of the National Parks (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 3-4, 145, 146-150 (originally published 1951); John Ise, Our National Park Policy: A Critical History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1961), 195-199; Jenks Cameron, The National Park Service: Its History, Activities and Organization, Institute for Government Research, Service Monographs of the United States Government #11 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1922), 27-28; Donald C. Swain, "The Passage of the National Park Service Act of 1916," Wisconsin Magazine of History 50:1 (Autumn 1966), 4-17.

3. See Joint Committee on Recreational Survey, 51, 54-55; Shankland, 184-185; Ise, 296-300.

4. Quotation from Yoder, 44. For the RMNPA's origins and activities, see Petty, "History," 397-403.

5. Yoder, 44-45.

6. Ibid., 46-47.

7. Ibid., 50-51. Compare the purposes of national parks as listed in a conference held during World War I (1916): "first, stimulating patriotism; second, furthering knowledge and health; and third, holding travel in America." Quoted in Joint Committee on Recreational Survey, 48.

8. In 1918, Secretary Lane charged Mather: "In studying new park projects, you should seek to find scenery of supreme and distinct quality. . . ." Nine years later, Mather reported on the System in the National Parks Bulletin. "As now constituted, it is made up of areas of incomparable scenic grandeur," he wrote, and while he went on to admit "the scenic supremacy of an area alone is not sufficient to gain its admission into the National Park System," the only other prerequisite mentioned was that "it must also be susceptible of whatever development is necessary to make it available for use by the millions of park visitors who may care to use it, without in any way injuring [its] extraordinary natural features. . . ." Quoted in Joint Committee on Recreational Survey, 49, 52-53.

Burroughs's quote is from his Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1916), 63-64; see also p. 16. Huth's curious speculation, apropos of Burroughs's comments, that "it could well be that the members of the presidential party discussed the causes of such utter destruction of a landscape, and that here [in the North Dakota badlands] T. R. reconfirmed his determination that conservation was to be one of the major achievements by which his term in office was to be remembered," is a misapprehension. Huth's phrase "utter destruction" leaves the impression that human misuse, rather than natural processes, was the cause of the landscape Burroughs found so unappealing. Roosevelt well knew the difference between the intrinsic nature of the badlands (which was, in fact, what Burroughs was describing) and the degraded state of its pastures caused by stock overgrazing since the mid-1880s. It is unlikely that this 1903 visit to the badlands he had known so long would have triggered the reaction Huth posits. See Hans Huth, Nature and the American: Three Centuries of Changing Attitudes (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972), 180-181. Originally published 1957 by the University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

9. Minot Daily News, 26 October 1963.

10. Joint Committee on Recreational Survey, 21; see also 7, 15, 22, and 23. As laid out in the 1927 proposal, the park would have been 60,000 acres in extent: Strand, 25. For the Assembly's resolutions, see Russell Reid (Supt., SHSND) to WL, 2 June 1948 (WL Papers).

11. Howard W. Ottoson, Eleanor M. Birch, Philip A. Henderson, and A. H. Anderson, Land and People of the Northern Plains Transition Area (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 49, 69.

12. "Congressman Don Short," text of interview appearing in North Dakota History 43:2 (Spring 1976), 65.

13. Kay Franklin and Norma Schaeffer, Duel for the Dunes: Land Use Conflict on the Shores of Lake Michigan (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 186-187; Shankland, 185. All land acquired by the federal government took place within "purchase boundaries"; for the initial size of the project, see Petty, "History," 410.

14. Strand, 12, 30; Conrad L. Wirth, Parks, Politics, and the People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980), 343.

15. "Congressman Don Short," 65; Petty, "History," 409.

16. It did so even after the project was designated a Recreational Demonstration Area. A 1937 NPS sponsored wildlife survey referred to the North Unit area as "North Roosevelt Regional State Park": Thomas L. G. Osmer, "A Report of Wildlife Study Made in North Roosevelt Regional State Park, Watford City, North Dakota, June 10 to September 15, 1937," unpublished MS, 1937 (THRO-L), 1. See also the description of the "Roosevelt Regional State Parks" published in 1938 as part of the American Guide Series of the Works Progress Administration: Federal Writer's Project, North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State (Fargo: Knight Printing Co., 1938), 173-181. In a 1944 soil survey of Billings County there is a reference to a "Roosevelt State Park" of 3000 acres, separate from the Roosevelt RDA: M. J. Edwards and J. K. Ableiter, Soil Survey, Billings County, North Dakota, series 1934, #25 (Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1944), 6.

17. Wirth, 177-178. At first the RDA program came under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, but was turned over to NPS (except for funding requests) in November 1936.

18. Ibid., 184.

19. "Congressman Don Short," 65.

20. The exact figure is disagreed upon. Conrad Wirth, who was directly involved with the RDA program, put the acreage at 63,483. In the House of Representatives hearings on Lemke's first proposal, it was given as 66,376, with 61,000 federally owned (42,700 in the South and 18,300 in the North Unit). The 1944 soil survey (see n16 above) gave it as 63,635. Finally, an unpublished summary dating from around 1943 listed the RDA acreage as follows:

South Area — Billings Co. North Area — McKenzie Co.
total purchased RDA lands44,356.9018,836.56
public domain2,549.026,051.49
total state school land (donated to federal gov't)4,331.461,280.00
total purchased by state680.00173.30
total not purchased (private land)3,182.271,878.65
total within primary purchase unit55,099.6528,220.00

Roosevelt was easily the largest of all the RDAs.

See, respectively: Wirth, 185; U. S. Congress, House, Committee on Public Lands, 79th Cong., 2d sess., 30 January 1946, Hearings on H. R. 4435, 5; Edwards and Ableiter; "Tabulation of Lands in Roosevelt Recreational Demonstration Area, Summarised as to Ownership Status and Taxable Value," unpublished MS. ca. 1943 (WL Papers), 1-2.

21. See Wirth's comment, 188; "Congressman Don Short," 65; and Robert Byrne, "Final Project Report, Roosevelt Regional Park, North Dakota R-1, Secondary Purchase Unit," unpublished MS, 1934-35 (Bismarck: Robert Byrne Papers, State Historical Society of North Dakota), unpaginated.

22. Russell Reid, "The North Dakota State Park System," North Dakota Historical Quarterly 8:1 (October 1940), 69. See also Roy W. Meyer, "Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park" [sic], National Parks Magazine 39:212 (May 1965), 17-20.

23. Ise, 299; Petty, "History," 404-405. In 1928 Mather's only public objection to the area was that it was too full of private holdings to support a park: Shankland, 185.

24. Ise, 299. In his indispensable study Ise displays little familiarity with the North Dakota badlands, speaking of the Roosevelt project in the same breath with such obviously inferior parks as Sullys Hill. See 136-142, 299, and 343.

25. Wirth, 329.

26. Edward C. Blackorby, Prairie Rebel: The Public Life of William Lemke (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963), 272; Strand, 33; Petty, "History," 425.

27. Nor was Roosevelt of Lemke, who had first come to statewide attention when he took a hiatus from his Fargo law practice to campaign for Wilson in 1912. Lemke then became nationally known in association with the Non-Partisan League, whose politics of neutrality during the Great War led Roosevelt, at the very end of his life, to brand it as anti-American. See Robert P. Wilkins, "Theodore Roosevelt and 'Daco-tah': A Mutual Disillusionment," North Dakota Quarterly 26:2 (Spring 1958), 58-62; and Blackorby, 271.

28. Wirth, 227.

29. Petty, "History," 416-417.

30. Osmer, 1. The refuge area was south and east of the Little Missouri River.

31. Petty, "History," 419.

32. Hearings, H. R. 4435, 3; Strand, 32-33.

33. Hearings, H. R. 4435, 3.

34. Ibid., 16-17.

35. In his book (p. 343), Wirth recalls that "Representative Lemke wanted it to become a national park, but Director Drury didn't think it qualified. . . . The difference of opinion between Drury and Lemke became very pronounced."

36. Hearings, H. R. 4435, 20. There are also indications that NPS thought the proposal a duplication of Badlands National Monument (now National Park), which had been proclaimed in 1929: Meyer, 19.

37. Hearings, H. R. 4435, 3.

38. Paul W. Lebo (President, Medora Chamber of Commerce) to WL, 17 August 1945 (WL Papers). See also A. T. Boyd (Secretary-Treasurer, Medora Grazing Association) to Weldon W. Gratton (Custodian, South Roosevelt RDA), 11 July 1944 (WL Papers).

39. "Resolution adopted at the Annual Meeting of the Medora Grazing Association held at Medora, North Dakota on June 25, 1942," memorandum accompanying letter of Boyd to Ickes, 29 June 1942; Boyd to Gratton, 11 July 1944. Quotation from letter of William P. O'Connell (Vice-President, Medora Grazing Association) to WL, 11 March 1947 (all WL Papers).

40. See the following letters of support to Lemke: R. Fay Brown (President, Bismarck Chamber of Commerce), 8 September 1945; C. T. Thompson (Belfield Chamber of Commerce), 24 December 1945; Carl Indergaard (Belfield American Legion), 26 December 1945; Ann M. Brown (Secretary-Treasurer, Medora Chamber of Commerce), 29 July 1946 (all WL Papers).

41. Hearings, H. R. 4435, 11-15.

42. Ibid., 5 (quote) and 16. When some local residents testified on behalf of Lemke before a Senate committee they framed their support of the park in terms of the land having little present commercial value. U. S. Congress, Senate, Senate Report #1897, to Accompany H. R. 4435, 79th Cong., 2d sess., 29 July 1946, 2. Alfred Runte has pointed out the central importance of the "worthlessness" argument to the creation of the National Park System in his National Parks: The American Experience (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979), esp. 48-64. For another indication of Runte's thesis, see Franklin and Schaeffer, 5-6.

43. Petty, "History," 423, 421. The park area may have been known locally as a wildlife refuge somewhat earlier. See William P. O'Connell to WL, 11 March 1947 (WL Papers).

44. Hearings, H. R. 4435, 21-22.

5. It also called for erecting an expensive monument to Roosevelt in Medora in lieu of purchasing the Maltese Cross Ranch site.

46. Chapman to J. Hardin Peterson, quoted in Senate Report #1897, 2.

47. Petty, "History," 424.

48. Second quote: WL to R. Fay Brown, 10 March 1947; first and third quotes: Strand, 36-37. See also WL to Dickinson Chamber of Commerce, 3 November 1945, and telegram of J. J. Eaton and J. F. Tester to WL, 13 March 1947 (WL Papers). The compromise was reported in Senate Report #54, to Accompany H. R. 731, 80th Cong., 1st sess., 19 February 1947. Interestingly, Ise recounts (p. 299) the attempts Senator Joe Robinson of Arkansas made in the late 1920s to get another national park for his state: "The Park Service and conservation organizations were on guard and squashed every bill. There was a fear that Robinson might propose the park as a 'memorial,' which would have made it harder to fight. . . ."

49. See B. E. Groom (ND Tax Equality Committee) to WL, 11 March 1947, and WL's reply, 14 March 1947. In his correspondence on the matter, Lemke gave his supporters three reasons why NPS would not approve a Theodore Roosevelt National Park: it would not be big enough, not scenic enough, and would be named after a person (which was supposedly against agency policy). He also once wrote that Democrats in Congress had conspired against his bills because they would commemorate a Republican.

50. Strand, 38; Congressional Record, 80th Cong., 1st sess., 93:1624.

51. WL to Oliver Whitmer (McKenzie County Farmer's Union), 29 March 1947; see also WL to Fred Shipmen (Editor, McKenzie County Farmer), 21 December 1945; however, perhaps again NPS sent mixed signals about its intentions. Lemke reported to his supporters that only the highest echelon of NPS officials (presumably under the influence of Drury—see n35 above) were against the North Unit addition, while any NPS personnel who had actually visited the area were favorably disposed: WL to Roy P. Johnson (Fargo Forum), 26 May 1948. But Lemke seems to have told individual correspondents what each wanted to hear, and so contradicts himself on this point; cf. his letters to James Connolly (Manager, Dickinson Chamber of Commerce), 22 December 1947, and to Einar H. Dahl (Watford City, ND), 13 February 1948. Still, Conrad Wirth (who at the time was NPS's chief of lands) came away from a September 1947 inspection of the North Unit in favor of adding it to the national memorial park; see Arne Tollefson (Auditor, McKenzie County) to WL, 31 December 1947. Russell Reid of the State Historical Society thought the administrative costs of the North Unit addition, coupled with NPS's meager budget, was the source of any agency opposition (see text at n57 below): Reid to WL, 12 May 1948 (all WL Papers).

52. U. S. Congress, Senate, Senate Report #1419, to Accompany H. R. 5816, 80th Cong., 2d sess., 20 May 1948.

53. U. S. Congress, House, Subcommittee on Public Lands, 80th Cong., 2d sess., 9 April 1948, Hearings on H. R. 5587, 1-6.

54. Ibid., 6, 12-13; Petty, "Draft History," 63.

55. The William Lemke Papers contain many letters from residents of northwestern North Dakota and eastern Montana in support of the North Unit addition.

56. The stock driveway easement (which also applied to the South Unit) was suggested to Lemke by Carl B. Olson, who had lived at Peaceful Valley Ranch. Lemke took the wording of the easement directly from Olson. See Olson to WL, 28 April 1948 (WL Papers).

57. Oscar L. Chapman to Richard J. Walsh (Chrmn., Senate Committee on Public Lands), 20 April 1948, quoted in U. S. Congress, Senate, Senate Report #1417, to Accompany H. R. 5587, 80th Cong., 2d sess., 20 May 1948, 2.

58. WL to Einar H. Dahl (Watford City, ND), 13 February 1948; WL to Reid, 6 February 1947 (emphasis in the original). The North Unit supporters compared the cut of the Little Missouri to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado and the coloration of the Achenbach Hills and bentonitic clays to the landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park: L. M. Stenehjem (Watford City Assn. of Commerce) to WL, 14 February 1947 (all WL Papers).

59. U. S. Congress, House, House Report #1782, to Accompany H. R. 5587, 80th Cong., 2d sess., 22 April 1948, 2.

60. Blackorby, 271.

61. See for example his letters to M. J. Connolly (Asst. Secretary, Greater North Dakota Assn.), 5 May 1948, and to Erven M. Day (Secretary, Watford City Assn. of Commerce), 6 May 1948 (WL Papers).

62. M. J. Connolly to WL, 31 March 1948 (WL Papers).

63. WL to W. L. Gardner (New England, ND), 30 April 1948 (WL Papers).

64. Ibid., and WL to Harry Polk (Williston, ND), 20 August 1947 (WL Papers). See also his letters of 3 June 1948 to John Herner (Stanley, ND) and to Russell Reid (Supt., SHSND) (WL Papers).

65. WL to J. J. Eaton (Medora, ND), 2 and 5 April 1947. See also WL's letters to Hugh Butler (Chrmn., Senate Public Lands Committee), 5 April 1947 and 22 April 1948 (all WL Papers).

66. Boyd to WL, 28 April 1948; WL to Boyd, 5 May 1948; and esp. Boyd to WL, 13 May 1948 (all WL Papers).

67. They also objected to the bill's correction of the Elkhorn Unit boundary because NPS would gain control of the only well in Ellison Draw. Lemke responded that he had been told there were two wells, but had, in any case, "no objection to putting in a provision in the bill that the water from these two Artesian Wells shall be made available to the ranchers for their livestock." Boyd to WL, 1 May 1948; WL to Boyd, 1 May 1948, 2-3 (WL Papers).

68. For characterizations of the Medora Grazing Association, see the following letters to WL (all in the WL Papers): Leon Hellickson (Medora, ND) 11 November 1946; James B. Connolly (Manager, Dickinson Chamber of Commerce), 1 May 1948, and the extremely revealing pair of letters Connolly sent to WL on 15 May 1948; Hugh D. McGarvey (Belfield, ND), 16 May 1948; J. J. Eaton (Medora, ND), 19 May 1948; Russell Reid (Supt.,38 SHSND), 2 June 1948. For NPS acquiescence, see WL to Reid, 3 June 1948.

69. In 1943 and 1944 NPS negotiated tentative boundaries with the Medora Grazing Association so that fences adjoining grazing lands would cost as little to maintain as possible. Boyd to WL, 1 May 1948. For the Grazing Association's influence on the final South Unit boundary, see Boyd to WL, 28 April, 1 May, 13 May, and 19 May 1948; WL to Boyd, 29 April, 5 May, and 17 May 1948; WL to James R. Connolly, 20 May 1948; and esp. WL to J. Harold Johnson (Auditor, Billings Co.), 21 May 1948 (all WL Papers).

70. For an approach to these problems, refer to Elwyn B. Robinson, "The Themes of North Dakota History," North Dakota History 26:1 (January 1959), 5-24; and Wynona H. Wilkins, "The Idea of North Dakota," North Dakota Quarterly 39:1 (Winter 1971), 5-28.

71. The dedication was delayed until 1949 at the request of Allyn Hanks, the park's first superintendent, who wanted basic organization, staff appointments, and the acquisition of the North Unit settled beforehand. See James B. Connolly to WL, 27 February 1948 (WL Papers). Drury's remarks are recorded in "Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park: Dedication, June 4, 1949," unpublished pamphlet (THRO-L), unpaginated.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004