This video takes you on a journey over land and through time to discover why there is a National Park named after Theodore Roosevelt. Designed for North Dakota school students to meet state curriculum standards.
- 15 minutes
- Credit/ Author:
- National Park Service/THRO Interpretation
- Date created:
*classical guitar music intro*
00:00:19,960 --> 00:00:23,099
Hello, and welcome to Theodore Roosevelt
My name is Ranger Joe, and I'm an education ranger.
My job is to teach people about our
national parks; this park is dedicated
to the life and passions of our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.
However, it has little to do with his time as our nation's leader...
In fact, this park is located in western North Dakota
thousand of miles from where Theodore
Roosevelt grew up in New York City,
and where he served as president in Washington, D.C.
Theodore Roosevelt was a fascinating man, and his time in North Dakota was only a small part
of a very interesting life. And so I invite you
to join me as we take a trip over land and through time
to try to discover who T.R. really was.
Along the way, we'll learn more about this
interesting country known as the Badlands,
and we'll try to solve the mystery of Theodore Roosevelt's words when he said:
"I never would have been president if not for my time in North Dakota."
This cabin behind me is the oldest building that we have at Theodore Roosevelt National Park,
so I thought it would be a good place for us to start.
So join me as we explore inside of the cabin
and we'll see if we can find anything interesting.
During Theodore Roosevelt's time period, North Dakota was still a part of the American frontier,
meaning it was mostly natural space.
There weren't any large cities or roads for people to move around very much.
And so they needed a lot more basic necessities in their homes than we would have today.
In fact, those North Dakota winters can get pretty cold
and I think they would need a good way to heat their homes...
This stove would definitely be what they would have used.
But the Badlands, they don't have a lot of trees out here,
so they must have used something... Ah! I
think this is our answer!
Badlands have a very special type of coal.
It's called "lignite," and you can find this
in seams out in the buttes and formations of the Badlands.
Ranchers and cowboys would have just gone and dug for it right out of the ground
and taken it back into their homes to help
them keep warm.
You know, I just remembered something
else about Theodore Roosevelt:
he loved books! In fact, this old bookshelf here,
filled with these novels on history and
wildlife and nature
would've been the perfect entertainment
for him if he was out here in North Dakota.
But he wasn't just an avid reader
he was also a prolific writer. Theodore
Roosevelt wrote more books than
any president, before or since, and this writing desk
would've been the perfect place for him
to pen some of those novels that he was so famous for.
Let's keep looking around the cabin to see if we can find any more clues.
Wow, this is a neat old kitchen!
There's a stove here, kind of like the other one that we saw in the first room.
Obviously this one was designed for
cooking, but it was probably fed by coal,
like the first one we saw. There are lots of
kitchen appliances in here like
a coffee grinder, waffle iron, things for
making biscuits, frying pans for other foods.
There's a lot of nice things in here... I'm getting the impression
that this wasn't just a normal frontier cabin.
It looks a little more high class.
Typically, cabins of that day only had one room, with a dirt floor.
The fact that we have different rooms and partitions,
wooden floors, all these nice appliances and equipment
tells me that maybe somebody special used to live here.
Let's keep exploring: we have one more room to check out.
Wow, a private bedroom! This cabin was definitely high class for its day.
A lot of times, people just slept on the floor.
If they did have a bed, it was in a corner
of their one-room cabin,
not tucked into its own cozy quarters
Oh wow! Another clue!
This travel trunk has the letters "TR" on it - TR, like Theodore Roosevelt!
I bet this used to belong to him, and if he
brought a big trunk like this
all the way from New York, I bet I know how he got here.
In the 1800's, for someone to go from New York City to the Dakota Territory
would have been a long and difficult journey.
But by 1880, there was a railroad built, connecting the great eastern cities with the western frontier.
So I bet it only would have taken Theodore Roosevelt a few days to get out here.
But he still would have needed traveling
supplies, and extra clothes
for his luggage, so he probably used a
travel trunk, maybe even this exact one!
But if he came out here on a trip,
he had to have some kind of purpose...
Ahh... I think our last clue is in the corner of the cabin behind this trunk.
There's an old rifle back here, it looks
like an antique
so I'm going to make sure I put my special gloves on so I don't damage it at all.
This is an old Winchester model rifle from from 1880's
I bet Theodore Roosevelt used a gun just like this.
If he brought a gun with him to the Dakota Territory,
it was probably to hunt. Theodore Roosevelt was a very avid outdoorsman
and he loved spending time in nature, and he loved hunting.
If he came to the Badlands on a hunting trip, I wonder what he was here to hunt.
To solve that mystery I think we're going to need to leave the cabin and go out
into the National Park, learn a little bit about the habitats and the animals that we can find here.
So make sure you have your boots on; it's time for us to have an adventure, just like TR did.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is found in the western part of North Dakota,
called the Badlands - a name given to it by
French traders, and early Western
pioneers the new United States.
It is a broken country, filled with strange
steep ravines, and little water.
All of the water sources here lead to the Little Missouri River,
which winds its way through the buttes and formations of western North Dakota.
Sculpted by the river, rain, and wind
the Badlands were an opportunity for a young Theodore Roosevelt
to enjoy the western frontier at a time when it was still wild place, sparsely populated by humans.
Surrounding the buttes and coulees of the badlands are vast, rolling prairies.
These prairies provide habitat for many
plants and animals,
from small insects and birds,
to the great American bison.
The western frontier was home to numerous large game animals, and it is likely Theodore Roosevelt
came to North Dakota to hunt these animals, which were not found near his native New York.
However, bison were quickly disappearing
from the American landscape in the 1880's,
due to extreme over-hunting.
If TR came to hunt bison, it is likely there were not many left in North Dakota.
But as the Bison disappeared, many people saw the North Dakota prairies as an ideal place to raise cattle,
and the frontier started to change into
Today, towns and cities dot the landscape of North Dakota.
Fields are sectioned off with fences,
and industry has found its way onto the prairie.
However, Theodore Roosevelt National Park protects a small area of the Badlands,
preserving the landscape much as our future president would have seen on his trip in the 1880's.
The wildlife and scenery found here are
definitely worthy of a National Park,
but I'm still not sure why it's named after
It's pretty clear that he came to the Badlands, but there must be something more.
So I think we should return the cabin,
look for other clues to TR's time in North Dakota.
00:08:33,520 --> 00:08:34,500
Ranger: Oh! Mr. Roosevelt!
Roosevelt: Hello Ranger!
Ranger: It's very interesting to meet you here...
Roosevelt: It's a delight to see you, here in my cabin. How are you today?
Ranger: I'm doing very well, sir. How are you?
Roosevelt: Fine as toad's hair!
Ranger: Excellent! Well, maybe you can help me out... Roosevelt: Please - be happy to!
Ranger: I was here looking around the cabin earlier, and out exploring the park,
and I was wondering why there's a National Park here in North Dakota, named after you.
Roosevelt: Of course my life and legacy are closely associated with the state of North Dakota.
I first came here in the fall of 1883 to hunt the Bison bison.
But I was so impressed with life here in the Badlands...
The free-range cattle business was all
the rage at the time so I invested,
purchased the operations of the Chimney Butte Ranch - we used the Maltese Cross Brand.
And of course I eventually came back in 1884
and established my second ranch, the
Elkhorn Ranch, along the Little Missouri River.
Some call it the "Cradle of Conservation."
Ranger: But Mr. Roosevelt, I've heard you referred to as our "Conservationist President..."
How can you be a hunter and a conservationist?
Roosevelt: Oh, there's no contradiction whatsoever! The great hunters are truly conservationists.
They help protect the game by providing habitat,
and of course assisting to make sure
that the species is propagated.
That the great mammals of the northern plains have remained is due in great part to the work of the hunter
who is also, when done properly, a conservationist.
Ranger: You said you didn't come just to hunt,
you were also a rancher here in North Dakota - tell me a little bit about that.
Roosevelt: It was during my time here as a rancher
that I saw that much of the Western game had been decimated, much of its habitat laid to ruin.
So along with men like George Bird
Grinnell, I helped to found
Boone and Crockett, the nation's first
fair hunting and conservation organization.
Ranger: That's a very noble effort to make sure that future generations are able to
enjoy the same things that you were able
to enjoy out here in North Dakota.
Well, Mr. Roosevelt, it sounds like that
you certainly left an impression on the Badlands.
Roosevelt: And how the Badlands and the Dakota Territory left an impression on me...
I visited in 1910 in Fargo, and I said I
would have never been president
but for my experiences in North Dakota.
Of course, it was here that I saw so much
of the need for conservation,
that when I look back at my
presidency and my legacy,
domestically there's nothing more
important the 230 million acres
of National Parks, National Forests, wildlife
refuges, bird sanctuaries and National Monuments
declared or legislated during the 7 1/2
years of my administration.
When I visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park, see these Badlands and the wildlife here preserved,
well it does my heart good.
Ranger: Well thank you, Mr. Roosevelt, for helping us on our adventure today to learn more about this park,
and about your influence, and your significance here in North Dakota.
Roosevelt: Bully indeed, Ranger! A delight to be with you today, and I wish you the best in your endeavors.
Ranger: Will I ever see you again?
Roosevelt: You'll see me - I'm everywhere around Theodore Roosevelt National Park!
Maybe you'll see me in the sky, and
in the trees, and in the wildlife here.
I'll be thinking of you, and I hope that you and the visitors to the park will be thinking of me,
and be inspired to make this country a better place.
Ranger: We certainly will; thank you, Mr. Roosevelt!
Roosevelt: Bully - a pleasure, sir, you're welcome. I'll see you again.
Ranger: Enjoy the rest of your book, Mr. Roosevelt!
Wow, that was amazing! We got to explore a frontier cabin from the 1880's,
visit a National Park, and meet a former president!
You know, something Theodore Roosevelt said at the end of our conversation really stuck with me...
about inspiring people to make the world a better place,
setting an example for those that come after us.
Today, Theodore Roosevelt is considered one of our greatest presidents,
in large part because of the example he set for those that came after.
This National Park is dedicated not only to the memory of Theodore Roosevelt,
but to his legacy, his accomplishments, as well.
His time in North Dakota, the influence that
he had on this state,
and the influence that the state had on him,
are a part of that legacy.
He says he never would have been president if not for his time spent in North Dakota.
So if it wasn't for this state, the world may have never known Theodore Roosevelt;
and if it wasn't for Theodore Roosevelt, we might not have the special places that we have today.
I hope you enjoyed our adventure today,
and had fun learning about Theodore Roosevelt,
his contributions, and the National Park
created here in his honor.
Just as Mr. Roosevelt would have
wanted, this wild country is here for you to explore,
so I hope you come and visit the park to
learn more about this fascinating place
and the man it helped inspire.
*classical guitar music*
I hit my hat...
Let's start that over again.
...the wild horses, the pronghorn sheep... bah! Pronghorn...
Ready to go? We'll go down from three... two...
I'm Theodore Roosevelt, and I approve this message!