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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge


McKenzie County is the “Island Empire” in North Dakota, owing to the rivers that surround the county. Motorists usually have to cross a bridge to enter the county, and residents rejoiced for having a new one dedicated on this date in 1928.

It was a special event. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge spanned the Little Missouri River south of Watford City. The bridge replaced a family-run ferry, which charged a fee for crossing and was hampered by thin ice in fall and ice jams in spring.

Governor Arthur Sorlie, U.S. Sen. Gerald Nye and a delegation of other senators were on hand for the dedication. Their itinerary included meals with locals and a tour of the area. Lunch at the new, $100,000 bridge followed its dedication. The bridge’s location was noted for being close to where Roosevelt and his ranch hands years earlier subdued a trio of desperadoes who stole his boat.

Ranchers and cowboys from Roosevelt’s Medora days planned to turn out for the dedication. One of them was John Goodall, who was a ranch foreman of the Marquis de Mores. Goodall knew Roosevelt from their roundup days. Alice Roosevelt Longworth was asked to dedicate the bridge named for her father, but she was unable to attend. Thousands of people attended the ceremony.

After the dedication, the governor and senators toured the Badlands in the area of the bridge, as well as the Killdeer Mountains area. They spent the night in Medora. Discussions were underway to establish a Theodore Roosevelt national park in western North Dakota, which some of the visiting senators were in favor of. We’ll hear more about that tomorrow.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura

The Bismarck Tribune. 1928, July 12. Page 1
The Bismarck Tribune. 1928, July 13. Page 1
The Bismarck Tribune. 1928, July 14. Page 1

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