“I shall be the richest financier in the world!” - Marquis de Mores
On April 1, 1883, the Marquis de Morès claimed a six square mile area of Little Missouri river bottom and founded the town of Medora, which he named after his wife. He founded his town intentionally close to the lawless settlement of Little Missouri as an affront to its unwelcoming residents. He built a slaughterhouse, or abbatoir, where cattle and other livestock could be slaughtered, dressed, and loaded onto refrigerated rail cars and shipped to markets in the east. As his economic theory went, cattle that came straight off the range to slaughter would be of higher quality than those who were shipped live by train to the Chicago stockyards, losing weight while in transit. The business intended to capitalize on the booming cattle ranching industry in the Dakota Territory in the 1880s. For a variety of reasons, including a lack of attention by the Marquis as he continually looked for new investments and his legal troubles stemming from the shooting of Riley Luffsey, the de Morès meatpacking empire never saw its full potential before it closed in 1886.
Disagreements with Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt, in fact, had not acted against the Marquis, but if he could not convince the Marquis of his innocence, the disagreement might very well have been settled in a duel, implied by the word "directly," in the Marquis's letter. Privately, Bill Sewall offered to be Roosevelt's second in the duel TR wanted to avoid. Carefully, TR wrote back to the Marquis, “Most emphatically I am not your enemy; if I were you would know it, for I would be an open one, and would not have asked you to my house nor gone to yours." TR closed that he was "ever ready to hold myself accountable for anything I have said or done." TR's tactful response cooled tensions between the two giants of Medora. The Marquis backed out of any direct confrontation with Roosevelt.
The State Historical Society of North Dakota operates the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site, located near the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s South Unit in Medora. The site is composed of three separate parts: the Chateau de Mores, De Mores Memorial Park in downtown Medora, and Chimney Park. The Chateau de Mores site includes a visitor center, museum, and guided tours of the Marquis's home. De Mores Memorial Park features a statue of the Marquis. Chimney Park, where a picnic area and ruins of the abbatoir are located, stand as a quiet reminder of the Marquis's unfulfilled dreams.
Last updated: December 3, 2020