Maltese Cross Cabin

A log cabin sits in a grassy area. Trees and a fence are visible behind it, and a sidewalk in front.
The Maltese Cross Cabin as it looks today on the grounds of the South Unit Visitor Center.

NPS Photo/ B. Collins

Quick Facts
Medora, North Dakota
A cabin belonging to Theodore Roosevelt, and one of the places he stayed when visiting Dakota Territory.

Benches/Seating, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Scenic View/Photo Spot

In 1901 Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States, and ultimately one of its greatest conservationists. He later said, "I would not have been president had it not been for my experience in North Dakota."

Those experiences began in 1883, when Roosevelt arrived in the Dakota Badlands to hunt bison. Before he left, he purchased the primary interest in the Chimney Butte Ranch (known locally as the Maltese Cross Ranch). Roosevelt thrived on the vigorous outdoor lifestyle, actively participating in the life of a working cowboy. He would write three books about his experiences, which would deepen and broaden his career-defining conservation ethic.

What became known as the Maltese Cross Cabin was only a temporary home for Roosevelt. He would split his time between Dakota and New York for the next several years. Following the death of his wife and mother in February of 1884, Roosevelt returned to Dakota, establishing a second ranch he named the Elkhorn. By 1887, Roosevelt began to sell his interests in the cattle industry. By 1900 the Maltese Cross Cabin was claimed by other residents.

During Roosevelt's presidency, the cabin was acquired for the 1904 World's Fair, hosted in St. Louis, MO. The cabin traveled from Missouri to Portland, OR for the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. It would spend time in Fargo, ND before settling on the grounds of the state capital in Bismarck, ND.

The Daughters of the American Revolution eventually took over the care of the cabin, and acquired many of the items you can see today. In 1959, twelve years after the park was established, the Maltese Cross Cabin came to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Restored to its original state, you can walk in Roosevelt's footsteps by touring the cabin behind the South Unit Visitor Center.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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15 minutes

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.

Last updated: November 7, 2021