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Maltese Cross Cabin, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Kurt Repanshek
Friday, July 20, 2012

The Maltese Cross Ranch cabin was originally located about seven miles south of Medora in the wooded bottom-lands of the Little Missouri River.

At Theodore Roosevelt's request, ranch managers Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield built a one-and-a-half story cabin complete with a shingled roof and root cellar. 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). The steeply pitched roof, an oddity on the northern plains, created an upstairs sleeping loft for the ranch hands.

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. 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?"

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