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RANCHING IN THE BAD LANDS.
comrade witH THE cowboys – wiss THE confidence AND EstEEM of HUNTERs, RANCHMEN AND PIONEERs—“BUSTING” BRONCHOS – ADVENTURES WITH WILD BEASTS – THRILLING FIGHT WITH A Grizzly.
The adventurous spirit was surely a part of . Theodore Roosevelt’s heritage; and when, after the completion of his college course, he felt that life had given him the world as the field of his activities, he naturally felt a desire for so much spice of adventure as prudence and good judgment would permit. Those were “piping times of peace.” There was no war with which his country was concerned; and he was far from the type of fortune's soldier who makes the cause of distant peoples his vital concern. He could find too much of utility nearer home.
There were no gold-fields. In the busy years when the American Republic was gathering for
the world-empire which has come to it later,
the man of adventurous spirit was hard pressed to employ his energies. It happened in this period that great ranches were being established in the far Northwest. Before the Civil War the plains of Texas had been dotted with cattle. Little attention was paid to them until the latter days of that struggle. Then it was found that beef of any kind was rare and difficult to get. The herds of Texas became the commissary of two armies, and, when the war was over, sagacious men took the hint and began to engage in the cattle business. At first Texas remained the breeding ground. Ranchmen drove their young cattle north for three years of feeding before shipping them to market. But as the years passed they found the “range” taken up. The trail from the Panhandle of Texas to the pasture lands of the North had been strung with barbed wire of farmers; and the cattlemen had to find preserves of their own. That forced the development of the Upper Missouri country. And the coincident building of the Northern Pacific Railroad provided a means of reaching markets. Scores of ranches were opened in that new country, lately wrested from the Indians. The Marquis de Mores, a picturesque Frenchman, was one of those who took advantage of the fortune offered, and he spent a magnificent dot establishing the town of Medora, an abortive city crowned with the name of his wife. Mr. Roosevelt, fretting at the irksomeness of the law as a study, realizing vaguely the greater career that was in store for him, cast his eyes to the one Eldorado which promised scope for his energy and fuel for those fires of adventure which burned within him, went to the “Bad Lands,” and engaged in the life of a rancher. It was with no purpose of gaining wealth. While by no means one of the rich men of the nation, since wealth had come to be measured in millions, he had still no need to earn a competence. But there was a breadth and freedom, a romance and exhilaration in the prospect which attracted him. So he established himself on the Little Missouri, and opened two cattle ranches. One was called “Chimney Butte”; the other “The Elkhorn.” Here at intervals, for years, he lived a life of vigor and activity, developing those lungs that had suffered somewhat in the labor of study, and the living in cities; and wakened as well that resourcefulness in danger, that selfreliance and the power to combat which his future career was to require. At the same time he passed there many delightful months. There was absolutely no limit to the range he might ride. Remember it was in the early eighties, when every day was a test of endurance, and every night a demonstration of courage. It is little wonder if the tonic quality of the great Northwest entered into his frame, and added both to his stature and his strength. Mr. Roosevelt has himself laughingly said he made little money on his cattle ranches. But he won something that cannot be measured in money; for he gave himself, at the only period when the time was at his command, the precise form of development that has proven so valuable in his later life—and that will arm him to the end. There was adventure in plenty. A fragment, taken from his own book, “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman,” gives a brief but vivid suggestion of the kind of life he led. Together with a companion, he had started on the trail of a huge grizzly bear. “We could still follow the tracks by the slight scrapes of the claws on the bark, or by the bent and broken twigs; and we ad