Theodore Roosevelt valued the Elkhorn Ranch's remoteness and quietude. Today, the site, though protected by the park, is threatened by nearby development.
- Credit / Author:
- National Park Service
[Crickets, piano music]
Bruce Kaye: "It's here that he experienced life that he took to the White House. He gave a speech in Dickinson in 1886, and within that speech, he talks about that 'it's not what we have that will make us a great nation, it's the way in which we use it.' And those thoughts had to come from, perhaps, this veranda. It's also within that speech, he gives us a passionate plea that it's encumbent upon everybody to take care of our heritage because if we don't, we're not going to get the blessing of our children and our children's children. He sees a need. He sees a need that we need to take care of what we have in the future, and he certainly did his part.
Valerie Naylor: "The Elkhorn Ranch is the most historically significant part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It's the place where Theodore Roosevelt came to find peace, solitude, and tranquility, and visitors to the site today still see it much as he did. Unfortunately, it can be easily compromised by noise and visual intrusions."
[Field sparrow call]
Clay Jenkinson: "After the simultaneous death of Roosevelt's wife, Alice, and his mother, Mittie, on Valentine's Day 1884, he was a broken man. And the scenes of his grief were so depressing to him that he decided to take advantage of his connection to the badlands of North Dakota and come out here. He started to scout around for a place where he could really disappear from the world, and he had heard from a rancher by the name of Howard Eaton that there was some really good land. Roosevelt rode out there alone and he found this spot, and he chose, it and called it the Elkhorn Ranch site not because he wanted to get rich running cattle -- he chose it because it was really in the middle of nowhere. And if he built a small cabin there, he could guarantee that he would be left alone, and that's what he needed at that point in his life."
Valerie: "Although it take some effort for visitors to come to the Elkhorn Ranch, those that come here are rewarded with an experience very much like that that Theodore Roosevelt had when he first came here in 1884. Visitors often remark about the peace, tranquility, and solitude, and the historical significance of this very special place."
Clay: "Hello everyone, my name is Clay Jenkinson. I'm a North Dakotan, I'm a Humanities scholar, in fact I'm a scholar of the life and achievement of Theodore Roosevelt, and I'm a great lover of the badlands of western North Dakota, and in particular, the Little Missouri River Valley. I'd like to take a minute to talk with you about Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch, the most historically important place in the North Dakota badlands. The Elkhorn Ranch is one of the most beautiful places in North Dakota, indeed, one of the most beautiful places on the Great Plains. What makes it so extraordinary is that it is largely untouched, uncompromised by human industrial and human economic development. It's remote, it's pristine. The viewshed that Roosevelt saw in 1884, we can still see in the early 21st Century. If we believe that the Elkhorn Ranch is the most Rooseveltian place in North Dakota, indeed, possibly the most Rooseveltian place in America, then it's abolutely essential that we keep it as close to Roosevelt's Elkhorn as possible. We not only have to preserve that land, but we have to preserve the atmosphere of the place. We need to make sure that all industrial activities -- roads, bridges, oil activity, trucks, ambient noise -- are far enough displaced from the Elkhorn Ranch that a person going there can experience something like the profound solitude that Roosevelt sought there and from which Roosevelt gained so much in his personal life and his life as an American statesman. Just how far that distance is from the Elkhorn Ranch property, I don't know. But I know that noise travels a very long distance in the badlands, and so it's important that we plan with a deep respect for Theodore Roosevelt, and a profound commitment to keeping that home ground as pristine as is possible."