Notes from the National Park Vagabond: Wind Cave National Park

Jun 08, 2016

This year the TR Center is joining with Valerie Naylor, former superintendent of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, to hunt out the TR related collections in parks dedicated by him. “My goal is to get items that are critical but that we haven’t seen before,” Naylor states. We will post updates of her travels and finds.

On May 24, I visited Wind Cave National Park, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Wind Cave NP was established by an Act of Congress, with a signature from Theodore Roosevelt, on January 9, 1903.  It was the second national park TR established during his presidency.  I attended an inspiring centennial celebration at Wind Cave in 2003, although it was not held in January. 

The park’s archival records do not go back to 1903.  Most of them are from later years, when the cave was being explored, buildings were being constructed, and the park was emerging as a tourist destination.  However, there is a visitor register, found over 80 years ago, with the signatures of people who entered the cave around the time of the park’s establishment.  There are several signatures of Seth Bullock, the Sheriff of Deadwood, South Dakota, who was the first Custodian of the Black Hills Forest Reserve, to which Wind Cave was added before it became a national park.  Bullock and Roosevelt were friends.  TR sent his son, Ted, and Ted’s cousin George, to spend time with Bullock in South Dakota the same year the park was established.  He wanted his son and nephew to get a taste of the rigors of western life, to “do some shooting,” to ride horses, and to participate in a cattle roundup. 

Later, Seth Bullock named a mountain near Deadwood for the 26th President and had a 32 foot Friendship Tower constructed.  Mt. Roosevelt and the tower stand today as a reminder of their friendship.  Meanwhile, we have digitized a few pages from 1902 and 1903 in the Wind Cave register to remind us of the role TR’s friend played in the establishment of our 6th national park.

Click here for more information on Wind Cave National Park.

Wind Cave National Park Scenery

Scenery around Wind Cave National Park

Posted by Valerie Naylor on Jun 08, 2016 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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