Medora is a small little town located in the western part of North Dakota. The population is only 112 people as of the 2010 Census. The town has quickly become the state’s most visited tourist attraction. Medora is a seasonal town with most of the hotels, restaurants, and shops open from May to Labor Day. Since I visited Medora in mid September, most of the shops and restaurants were already closed. The Pitchfork Fondue, which was a restaurant that I was really hoping to eat at, was closed. I did find the Cowboy Café, which is one of the few restaurants open year round that services the permanent residents of the town. It was good home cooking food and the homemade pies were fabulous. I missed out on most of the attractions such as the Medora Musical and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Although the timing of my visit didn’t allow me to experience all that Medora had to offer, I still was able to take in some of the historical sites. Before exploring the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I stopped by the Chateau de Mores, one of the state’s historical sites. Medora was founded in 1883 by the Marquis de Mores as a summer home for him and his wife. During the Dakota winter, they would go back to France. He named the town Medora after his wife. The Marquis hoped to start a cattle operation where he would slaughter the cattle and then ship them across the country in refrigerated railcars. Because of a drought and poor business skills, the Marquis only lived in the Chateau for three years before moving back to France.
The 128 acre Chateau de Mores now consist of a museum and guided tours are offered of the Chateau. The Chateau is a two story 26 room building which sits on a hill overlooking Medora. There are original furniture and artifacts that belongs to the Mores as well as pieces from the time period. Tours of the house cost $7 and it lasts about an hour. It is open year round but the hours change during the winter months.
Located a few blocks away is Chimney State Park. This was the location of the Mores meat packing plant. It burned down in 1907. The only remnant is the clay brick chimney which is still standing and certain pieces of the foundation are still standing. The site has been made into a park with picnic tables.
After spending some time at the different historical sites of the de Mores, I proceeded to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Roosevelt and the Marquis were both in Medora at the same time and at times had a hostile relationship. The Marquis once sent Roosevelt a letter challenging him to a duel but nothing came of it. For being such a small town, it is filled with many attractions, museums, and historical sites.
After a long day in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I decided to head a little further west to the Montana state line. It is only about 20 miles away and it was a great chance to grab a few pictures of the Montana and North Dakota welcome signs. Also, I could literally say that I drove across the entire state of North Dakota from Fargo to Montana. After a few pictures, it was time to head back to Dickinson to prepare for my long trip back to Fargo to head home.