As we begin our trek eastward we want to travel on a different route than the one we traveled when we went west. In our quest to escape the crowds and major highways we thought we would travel on Hwy 2, which runs parallel to the Canadian border, all the way from Montana to Minnesota. A very helpful couple who live in Montana and are originally from Minnesota strongly advised us to change our plans. Apparently the oil boom towns of the massive Bakken Oil Field are in the northern part of N. Dakota along Hwy 2. We heeded their advise and chose wisely, as others also told us of the crime and chaos in that area, which it is much like the gold rushes of the late 1800’s with no housing, astronomical prices, horrible traffic, etc.
So we traveled on Hwy 2 in Montana, staying overnight on the Indian Reservation of Fort Belknap, before turning SE and heading for the Theodore Roosevelt NP in the tiny town of Medora, ND. Little did we know that Medora is N Dakota’s biggest tourist attraction!
It all began in 1883 when an eccentric French nobleman, the Marquis de Mores came to the area and founded the town, which he named Medora in honor of his wife. With financial backing from his New York father in law, he built an abattoir (slaughterhouse), brick plant, hotel, stores and a large home (the Chateau de Mores) overlooking his new town. The 26 room house was built primarily to use as a hunting lodge and was not luxurious by any means, but was given the name Chateau by the locals who had never a house of that size and style. The family brought their servants, wine, china and furniture with them from New York and entertained hunting parties. They only occupied the house for three years before the Marquis’ business ventures failed and they returned to Europe. Click here for more info.
During that same time a young New York politician, Theodore Roosevelt, was coming to the Dakota Territories for big game hunting. He purchased land and became a cattle rancher, with interest in preserving land for the rapidly diminishing herds of wildlife.
It’s in a beautiful area, surrounded by the Little Missouri National Grasslands, but encroachment from the oil drilling is getting nearer and nearer. We saw wells going in not far outside the borders of the park. (I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite being an environmentalist while traveling across country in an RV.) 🙂