Here at Periodic Presidents, we can’t help but think of the work of Teddy Roosevelt when celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day. TR led the nation in a time of great expansion and industrialization, but he never lost sight of preservation.
TR’s work inspired us to create a new series called Art/Fact, in which we explore the stories behind significant landmarks and monuments. It’s fitting to begin with our country’s first national monument and one of our favorite presidents.
TR once wrote in The Outlook (1913), “It is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird.”
During his presidency, TR signed legislation that established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, five national parks, and four national game preserves.
Arts and Antiquities Act of 1906
In 1906, TR enacted the Arts and Antiquities Act, which allowed the president to proclaim historic landmarks as national monuments. He created eighteen national monuments though this act, the first of which was Devils Tower.
Devils Tower National Monument
Devils Tower was the first landmark to be deemed a national monument by President Roosevelt. The column stands over 1,000 feet above the Wyoming prairie lands outside of the Black Hills. The molten rock that cooled and cracked into columns is a sacred location for indigenous people. Many of their stories tell of a large bear climbing the tower in pursuit of people. The Lakota call it Bear Lodge. The Cheyenne call it Bear’s Tipi. Recently, there’s been a push to rename the Tower to reflect these names and stories.
Six National Park Sites Commemorating TR
You’ll find TR throughout the national park system. From Sagamore Hill in New York to Teddy Roosevelt Park in North Dakota, Teddy’s legacy has been preserved for generations to come. Click below to explore the parks.
All images from The National Park Service.
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