Roosevelt no stranger to West Slope | PostIndependent.com

Roosevelt no stranger to West Slope

Donna GrayPost Independent Staff
Photo courtesy of Frontier Historical Society / Glenwood Springs
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On April 14, 1905, Glenwood Springs was in turmoil. Word on the street had it that President Teddy Roosevelt would stop in the city on his way to a three-week hunting trip south of the tiny town of Silt.The Avalanche Echo (Glenwood Springs’ newspaper) reported that the train station had been spruced up with a new coat of paint and a side track in West Glenwood reserved and cleared of traffic.Five days later, on April 18, the President’s private car, the “Rocket,” did indeed stop, albeit briefly, in Glenwood Springs.”The banks along the track were lined with people,” the newspaper trumpeted. They cheered and waved American flags, hoping for a view of Roosevelt. The president obliged and appeared on the rear deck of his car, which was festooned with patriotic bunting. Roosevelt, a rancher, explorer, author, historian and military hero, and the 26th U.S. president, was wildly popular with the American public. In 1901, he was vice president and ascended to the presidency when then President William McKinley was assassinated.Roosevelt’s two terms were filled with remarkable achievement. Recognizing its strategic importance, he put the United States in charge of construction of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914. He was the first president to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, in 1906, for intervening to end the Russian-Japanese War.

But Roosevelt’s greatest legacy, especially to Westerners, is conservation of large tracts of now public land. Roosevelt called conservation a national duty, and the fruits of his efforts are still extant in Colorado. In fact, it was partially due to his hunting trips to Colorado and other western states, that those lands were set aside to stem the relentless, destructive tide of civilization.In his forays to the West, he recognized that America’s wild lands were shrinking under the plow and the railroad track. He set aside 18 national forests in Colorado during his terms in office and established Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain national parks.His trip to Glenwood Springs and hunting expedition on Divide Creek south of the present-day Silt, confirmed his love of untamed places and wildlife.He also brought back a souvenir from his trip to Garfield County. In a letter to his son Ted on April 20, 1905, and postmarked from Glenwood Springs, he wrote, “We have around 30 dogs, including one absurd little terrier … named Skip. Skip trots all day long with the hounds, excepting when he can persuade Mr. Stewart, or Dr. Lambert, or me to take him up for a ride, for which he is always begging.”In the heat of the hunt, whether bear or bobcat, Skip was always in the fray with the big dogs and did, indeed, travel back to the White House where he lived for the rest of his days.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605dgray@postindependent.com

Born: Oct. 27, 1858, in New York, N.Y. Died: Jan. 6, 1919, in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Twenty-sixth president, 1901-09 During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was lieutenant colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment, which he led on a charge at the battle of San Juan Became president at 43 in 1901 when President William McKinley was assassinated Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for mediating the Russo-Japanese War Some of Theodore Roosevelt’s most effective achievements were in conservation. He added enormously to the national forests in the West, reserved lands for public use, and fostered great irrigation projects. He left the presidency in 1909 and went on an African safari. In 1912 he ran for president on a Progressive ticket. To reporters he once remarked that he felt as fit as a bull moose, the name of his new party. While campaigning in Milwaukee, he was shot in the chest by a fanatic. Roosevelt soon recovered, but his words at that time would have been applicable at the time of his death in 1919: “No man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way.”Source: whitehouse.gov


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