Maltese Cross Cabin

Theodore Roosevelt's Log Cabin
Theodore Roosevelt buys the Maltese Cross Ranch and builds this cabin in the Dakota Territory, 1883.

NPS Photo by Beth Collins

Quick Facts

Medora, North Dakota
Cabin of President Theodore Roosevelt

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. After returning to Dakota in 1884, he established 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 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.

Last updated: February 9, 2017