Badlands Chautauqua – “The Tramp and the Roughrider,” in Medora, ND
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation is sponsoring Badlands Chautauqua presentations by
JOE WIEGAND as THEODORE ROOSEVELT, and
LEE STETSON as JOHN MUIR in:
“THE TRAMP AND THE ROUGHRIDER”,
Lee’s historical drama re-enacting their historic encounter. Program notes below.
In May of 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt, planning a tour of the western forests, invited the naturalist John Muir to a four day camping trip in the Yosemite wilderness. “The Tramp and the Roughrider” illuminates this extraordinary encounter, with the action unfolding at sunset on Glacier Point, overlooking the magnificent Yosemite Valley.
At the time of this historic meeting, many millions of acres of our western forest, with little or no governmental supervision, were being exploited and abused by hunting, lumber, stock and mining interests. The federal government had established only five national parks (and was without a Park Service), and exactly one small wildlife preserve, Pelican Island, defended by one lone volunteer against poachers. The Yosemite Valley, though surrounded by a national park, was controlled by the state of California, and was frowsy and neglected.
Both of these characters were feisty and opinionated, with sharp disagreements on issues like hunting, animal rights, and forest management. Muir’s poetic and evangelistic temperament, clashing with Roosevelt’s political enthusiasms, spawned both tension and humor. Both skillful storytellers, it seems natural that both would seek to top one another by relating some of their many adventures in the wilderness of early America – Roosevelt bringing a ruffian to justice on the frontier, for example, or Muir telling of his hair-raising “interview” with a Yosemite bear. But around the campfire, in sifting through their histories and their hopes, these very different men surely discovered how the other had been shaped by their very unique experiences in the wilderness they loved, opening up some rich possibilities of “doing some forest good”. For by the end of Roosevelt’s presidency, America could boast of an additional 200 million acres of forest wilderness, five more national parks, several new monuments (including the Grand Canyon) and 65 wildlife preserves. Bully!!!