The story of Theodore Roosevelt's self-exile to South Dakota following the loss of his wife and mother on the same day (February 14, 1884) and leading to the creation of his Elkhorn Ranch is widely known. The adventure enabled him to reconnect with nature and himself through the business he established at the site before later shutting down in 1898.
While you can learn about this period when you visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park, you currently only get a sense of what the land looked like through Teddy's eyes, but that will soon change. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation recently asked Richard Bickel to recreate Roosevelt's cabin in Dickinson at the site of the T.R. Presidential Library and Museum.
As The Dickinson Press reported, Bickel and his group of workers are not only recreating the building, they are limiting the use of new building techniques. Instead, they were able to learn Roosevelt's building techniques through diary entries. The news story also provides more of Bickel's background and how one of our partners in the National Treasures work, Clay Jenkinson, came up with the idea:
When Jenkinson came up with the idea to do the cabin and do it authentically, he said everyone thought the idea was "nuts." They eventually found Bickel with help from Jim Scull, a construction firm owner and philanthropist who had previously worked with him, and the match was a perfect fit.
"Richard turns up and he's exactly the kind of person you would look for," Jenkinson said. "If you looked through the whole world, you would want him. ... The idea that he's like the perfect human being for this project that you could never have dreamed existed and he's just turns up at the right moment, that's so gratifying."
Learn more about the process and see pictures of Bickel's work in progress on The Dickinson Press website and on TRPresidentialLibrary.org. And, if you don't have any plans for Saturday, October 8, stop by to join in the Roosevelt Elkhorn Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. on the future site of the presidential library in Dickinson, ND.