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T.R.'S CABIN DOOR
October 24, 1955
Battered and weathered, the plain board door of Theodore Roosevelt's cabin in the Badlands of Dakota Territory in the '80s served as background for a painting
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October 24, 1955

T.r.'s Cabin Door

Battered and weathered, the plain board door of Theodore Roosevelt's cabin in the Badlands of Dakota Territory in the '80s served as background for a painting

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From the rustic log cabin in the Dakota Badlands pictured above sallied forth one of America's greatest naturalists and sportsmen of the past century, Theodore Roosevelt, when he was bound on a hunt during his ranching days. October brings the anniversary of the birth of this man who hunted on our western prairies and the tundra of Alaska, from the African veld to the jungles of South America, and whose enthusiasm for forest and wildlife resulted in protective legislation which preserved much of both for the sportsman of today.

T.R. captured the imagination and admiration of his fellow sportsmen and adventurers during his own lifetime to such a degree that one of the cabins he built and lived in on the Badlands of Dakota Territory was shown in an exhibition in Portland, Oregon in 1905. An admirer, a painter named Richard LaBarre Goodwin who was traveling in the West at the time, was so intrigued by the cabin's old, weather-beaten door that he persuaded the management to let him take it to his nearby hotel to use as a background for a sporting still life (right). Obviously dedicated to "Teddy" and his legend, it shows an old muzzle-loading fowling piece, the Roosevelt soft hat and his dog whistle and a brace of freshly shot ducks against the mellow wood. It is painted in the precise and fastidious style known as trompe l'oeil, or "fool the eye," at which Goodwin excelled. At the time of the completion of the picture it was proposed that it be given to T.R. by the citizens of Oregon, but somehow the project petered out and the painting disappeared from public sight and interest. Only recently has it reappeared.

In the accumulation of snapshots of the Roosevelt saga taken during his years of travel and adventure, there are several of cabins he occupied while in the Dakotas. Because T.R. owned two ranches in that frontier land and was a restless and vigorous man who spent much of his time in the saddle, it is difficult to ascertain on which of the cabins the famous door hung. It is probably the one from the Elkhorn Ranch, built of cottonwood logs, which is shown here.

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