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Theodore Roosevelt
and the Dakota Badlands
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Establishment of the Park

Early in 1919, after Roosevelt's death, a movement was initiated to establish a Roosevelt National Park in the Little Missouri Badlands. In 1921 Carl Olsen, owner of the Peaceful Valley Dude Ranch, introduced a bill in the North Dakota Legislature which petitioned the Congress of the United States to establish Roosevelt Park, but Congress did not respond favorably at that time.

Attempts had been made to farm the region since it was first opened to settlement in the early 1900's. The drought and depression of the 1930's, however, proved that the Badlands were not suitable cropland. Through the Resettlement Administration, lands which had been classified as submarginal were retired from private ownership and later were utilized for grazing under the administration of the Soil Conservation Service and local grazing associations. In the mid-thirties the Resettlement Administration began purchasing the lands now in the park. Under the technical direction and supervision of the National Park Service, and with the labor and materials supplied by various relief agencies, the park was first developed as Roosevelt Recreational Demonstration Area. In 1946 the area became Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge. An Act of Congress on April 25, 1947, established Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park and returned its administration to the National Park Service. In 1978, Congress officially changed the park's name to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and designated 29,920 acres of the park's lands as wilderness .

Since the park's establishment, over 15 million visitors have recaptured the history of this rugged land and the men and women who challenged it.

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Last Modified: Sat, Jan 17 2004 10:00:00 am PDT

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