GSM 2014 August North Dakota - Day 2
Jul 4, 2015Public
Photo: The Maltese Cross Cabin, Theodore Roosevelt's original ranch cabin, is adjacent to the South Unit Visitor Center. The Maltese Cross Ranch cabin was originally located about seven miles south of Medora in the wooded bottomlands of the Little Missouri River.
Photo: At Roosevelt's request, ranch managers Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield built a one and one-half story cabin complete with a shingled roof and root cellar. The steeply pitched roof, an oddity on the northern plains, created an upstairs sleeping loft for the ranch hands.
Photo: Constructed of durable ponderosa pine logs, the cabin was considered somewhat of a "mansion" in its day, with wooden floors and three separate rooms (kitchen, living room, and Roosevelt's bedroom).
Photo: Several items present in the cabin today did belong to Theodore Roosevelt, but the majority of the furnishings are period pieces representing a typical cabin of the time. The white hutch in the main room is original to the cabin and was used as a bookcase and writing desk.
Photo: The classically styled desk is from the Elkhorn Ranch cabin. Roosevelt spent many hours laboring at his desks recording his experiences and memoirs of badlands life. The common rocking chair is believed to have been Roosevelt's, or may have come from an upstairs room in the Ferris Store where TR stayed on occasion. Rocking chairs were his favorite piece of furniture; all of his homes had rocking chairs, and Roosevelt once wrote, "What true American does not enjoy a rocking-chair?"
Photo: Roosevelt's traveling trunk sits in the bedroom and is inscribed with his initials. The large leather trunk traveled back and forth with him on the train from his home in New York City to the stop in Medora and would have held clothing and personal items.
Photo: Roosevelt actively ranched in the badlands only from 1883 until early 1887, but maintained ranching interests in the area until 1898. Later, as president, he developed a conservation program that deeply reflected his many experiences in the West. It was through these experiences that he became keenly aware of the need to conserve and protect natural resources.
Photo: Prairie dog town near the park entrance - look carefully for the residents.
Photo: Prairie dogs  are mostly herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. The five different species of prairie dogs are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the U. S., Canada and Mexico. Those in North Dakota are black-tailed prairie dogs.
Photo: View northward from the prairie dog town
Photo: Dennis at an overlook along the park road.
Photo: Scoria Point is where coal seams in the South Unit's hills have, over time, caught fire and baked the surrounding sand and earth.
Photo: Burning coal seams helped shape the Badlands of TRNP. As the coal seam burns away, the earth above slumps into space once occupied by the coal. Heat from the coal fires bakes the surrounding clay into natural brick, locally called "scoria" (but not true scoria, which is volcanic).
Photo: We had many magnificent views of the badland topography as we drove through the park.
Photo: East, west, south, or north, from the Ridgeline Nature Trail, it is easy to understand how the "badlands" term was coined.
Photo: The bluish-gray layers are the result of volanic ash -- perhaps from the last explosion of the Yellowstone caldera some 600,000 years ago? -- settling here and being compressed into bentonite clay. The black layers point to carbon deposition, from the muck of swamps that once stood here, that was compressed into coal.
Photo: Ridgeline Trail: We explored the badlands environment along a nature trail with moderate to steep grades.