Help Build the Elkhorn Ranch Cabin

Theodore Roosevelt and his ranch hands built the Elkhorn Ranch cabin on the banks of the Little Missouri River during the late fall and winter of 1884. It was here that TR grieved the death of his wife and mother, read and wrote copiously, and hunted and ranched. The cabin stood until the 1890s, when other ranches in the area appropriated the scarce building materials for structures of their own. The site where the cabin stood is preserved as part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and is called by many “the cradle of conservation.”

You can help build an authentic recreation of the cabin, the first structure on the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library site. The cabin is being built using the same methods and materials as Roosevelt, Sewall, and Dow used – axes, cross-cut saws, and hand-forged nails.

All donors will be named in a book to be exhibited in the cabin. For a gift of $500 or more, donors can submit up to 122 words of how TR has inspired them, or choose a quote by TR to be printed in the book. (TR used 122 words to describe the building of the cabin – see below.) 

Elkhorn Ranch Cabin Architectural Rendering

“The Elkhorn ranch house was built mainly by Sewall and Dow who like most men from the Maine woods were mighty with the ax. I could chop fairly well for an amateur but I could not do one third the work they could. One day when we were cutting down the cottonwood trees to begin our building operations I heard someone ask Dow what the total cut had been and Dow, not realizing that I was within hearing, answered, ‘Well, Bill cut down fifty three, I cut forty nine, and the boss, he beavered down seventeen.’ Those who have seen the stump of a tree which has been gnawed down by a beaver will understand the exact force of the comparison.”

Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography, 1913