Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Town of Medora, 8/03/2016

When we made plans to stay in Medora, ND, to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we thought it was another tiny town (population 112) in a remote part of the country. It was established in 1883 by the Marquis de Mores (French) and named in honor of his wife. We were pleasantly surprised to find a lovely little town with interesting historic sites, attractions, western-themed shops, restaurants, hotels, and parks. It remains the county seat of Billings County.  The County Courthouse was built in the early 1900s (on the National Register of Historic Places) and became a museum when a new courthouse was built to replace it in 1983.

There are interpretive signs all over the 6-block area of town. We strolled around learning more about the history and checking out some shops (and bought a couple of gift items for upcoming birthdays). 

The De Mores Park has a statue of the Marquis de Mores, the founder of Medora. Nearby is this sculpture dedicated to cowboys of the area.

J.A Ferris General Store was first built in 1885. Theodore Roosevelt rented an upstairs room when he made trips to town from his ranch. It closed in 1925. In 1963, Bismarck Enterprises purchased and restored it. Today, it is again a general store.

At this location the Metropolitan Hotel (16 guest rooms) opened in 1885 and closed just a year later. In 1901 it was re-opened and was subsequently named The Rough Rider Hotel in honor of Theodore Roosevelt and those who served in the Spanish-American War. It remained in operation until 1961. Harold Schafer purchased it in 1983, disassembled the building, and replaced it with the replica that stands today. Sixty-eight additional guest rooms and a conference center were added in 2008. We had dinner at Theodore's, the upscale restaurant here, the last night we were in town (great food and service but pricey). Across the street is one of the most picturesque US Post Offices I have seen in our travels!

The funding to build StMary's Catholic Church came from Medora de Vallombrosa, the Marquise de Mores in 1884. It is the oldest continuously operating church in the Bismarck Diocese and is on the Register of National Historic Sites. Much of the interior has been renovated over the years, but the altar and first four pews are original to the 1884 building.

The Harold Schafer Heritage Center is a museum (free) about the man who was known for as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and humanitarian. He founded the very successful Gold Seal Company and poured money into the rejuvenation of Medora, a town he dearly loved. He receive national recognition for his contributions to North Dakota. 

Nearby is Medora's Veterans Memorial

On the edge town, near the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is Chimney Park, the site of the De Mores Meat Packing Site. Built in 1883, it was the center of an extensive business plan to slaughter beef on the range and provide facilities for refrigeration, transportation, and marketing of dressed beef (shipped to Chicago). It closed in 1886 due in large part to the lack of range cattle in prime condition year round. It was destroyed by fire in 1907 leaving the chimney that still stands. Below is the chimney, the location of the loading dock (next to the railroad track), remains of ice houses, and one of the slaughterhouses. 

The Cowboy Hall of Fame is also located in Medora. We made plans to return for a visit before leaving the area. Another popular attraction in town is the Medora Musical that is performed in a nearby outdoor amphitheater. For details about the show and other Medora attractions, check out the town's website. 

Website: www.medora.com

No comments:

Post a Comment