“I shall be the richest financier in the world!” - Marquis de MoresWell, things do not always turn out the way one wishes - as the Marquis de Mores found out. In 1883 he bought a 6- square mile section of land near the Little Missouri, founded a town he named after his wife, Medora, built a 26-room home that the locals sarcastically called a ‘chateau’, a hotel, several stores, built a packing plant, bought refrigerated railroad cars and planned to ship cattle already dressed to the East.
At the time, cattle were being shipped live by train to the stockyards in Chicago. However, they needed to be fed and watered along the way, most lost weight in shipment and many suffered disease and damage in the 1000-mile trip in railroad cars. Thus, the weight that the cattle man shipped and was charged for by the railroads was much more than the weight that the cattle arrived in Chicogo and the cattlemen got paid by the stockyards.
But what a run they had and what a colorful swath they cut while they were here in Madora.
The Marquis was a most irascible man, and his arguments and fights were proverbial. He was also a formidable marksman who regularly engaged in duels. At one time he was accused of murder, was acquitted 3 times and in the end another man confessed to the murder. He almost challenged Roosevelt to a duel, because he assumed that Roosevelt was the instigator of the accusations. Had this duel taken place, the course of American history would certainly have been very different since Roosevelt was certainly no match for the Marquis. Years later Roosevelt would be elected President of the U.S!
She was quite an accomplished woman: she played the piano well, was an excellent artist and she spoke 7 languages and we saw one book in their library that was a French/Spanish dictionary.
The home was exquisitely furnished for a home on the prairie in the 1880’s. The home had lots of windows and a long hallway between the rooms on the front of the house and those on the back. This all allowed for good ventilation and cooling breezes during the intense summer heat. Here’s the office of the Marquis. Note the bricking in the corner, that is the back of the fireplace in the living room. Radiant heat in the office - how cool, or should I say ‘how warm.’
Here is the bedroom of the Marquise.
Here’s the guest room for her parents when they visited from New York. 2 twin beds AND in the same room. Certainly not something they were used to - no wonder they built their own home in town.
I was especially intrigued by the folding candle stand. All folded up, it rests inside a blue velvet case.
And, here they are mounted and ready to go. The Marquise is to the left of center.
The view from the home over the town to the colorful Badlands on the other side. If you look closely, you can see the chimney of the packing plant off to the left of center.
It was really quite a fine home and the furnishings were quite elaborate for the frontier.
In the end:
the meatpacking factory closed in 1887
the hotel burned in 1886 and burned to the ground in 1907
the stage coach closed in 1885 after only 7 months operation
the left the chateau for the last time in 1886
the Marquis was assassinated in North Africa 1896
But the town of Medora and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park are thriving and attracting more and more visitors every year.
You know how we enjoy the works of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Well, there was small museum on the property right next to the entry that they built for the home when the state took possession.