Only months after a visit to the Dakota area during an expedition on buffalo hunting, a young Theodore Roosevelt, at home in New York, was struck by double disasters on the same day. On February 12, 1884 his mother died of typhoid fever and 11 hours later his wife died of kidney failure. In his diary for that day he drew a large & # 39; X & # 39; about the page and he wrote below it: & # 39; The light has disappeared from my life & # 39 ;.
Although Roosevelt was an emerging political star, he put this career on hold and moved to the west to run a ranch while processing his grief. On his original trip to the Dakota, he had invested in the Maltese Cross Ranch in Medora, North Dakota. He wanted a more remote ranch and bought a piece of land 35 miles north of Medora on the banks of the Little Missouri River. Roosevelt called this Elkhorn Ranch property after finding the skulls of two moose with their antlers entangled on the site.
In the next few years Roosevelt traveled back and forth between his two farms (and occasionally back to New York City) but preferred the quiet secluded location of Elkhorn Ranch, where the close neighbors were miles away and he could spend his days when he was not & # 39; t busy with the ranch work by sitting on the porch of the house, reading in a rocking chair.
The winter of 1886 and 1887 was exceptionally harsh. Blizzards fell over the Dakotas and cattle over the entire west died. Roosevelt lost about 60 percent of his herd for the icy winter storms, and with his languishing businesses he crippled again to politics. He left the Elkhorn Ranch in 1890 and sold it in 1898. In the years after Roosevelt sold the building, it was neglected and the buildings were torn up by new owners for leftover material.
After the death of Roosevelt, the federal government was interested in maintaining the remote badlands that helped shape the character of the iconic American president and the acquisition of land for a possible future park. On April 25, 1947, the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park was established and later, in 1978, the park's boundaries were extended and re-initiated as Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Today the site of the Elkhorn Ranch of Theodore Roosevelt is preserved in the park, although there is not much that resembles what used to be. There are still several stones remaining from the base of the farm house, and information boards about the history of the ranch and the surrounding area run along the paths.