Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Chateau de Mores

A watercolor of the Chateau de Mores by Medora Vallombrosa, the Marquise de Mores

Antoine Amedee Marie Vincent Amat Manca de Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Mores et Montemaggiore, named the town of Medora in honor of his wife.

Medora Vallombrosa, the Marquise de Mores

But that's not the only contribution he made to this community.

Marquis de Mores

He also came up with a simple but ingenious plan.  Instead of shipping cattle to the meat packing plants in Chicago, he would butcher the cattle there in Medora and capitalize on the new technology of refrigerated boxcars to transport the carcasses by rail back east.

The Chateau de Mores

Tuesday afternoon Tim and I visited the Chateau de Mores, a large frame house the Marquis built on a bluff overlooking the town.  The Marquis and his family used it as their summer home. There we learned more of the Marquis' venture.  

Optimistically, the Marquis bought a herd of cattle and built a slaughterhouse which opened in 1883.  Soon the business was butchering 25 cattle a day, but the Marquis wanted more. 

"I will become the richest financier in the world," he avowed. 

He built an addition to his plant with dreams of slaughtering 500 cattle a day.  In reality, though, the plant handled, at best, 85 beeves a day. 

Still, that was enough to satisfy the independently wealthy Marquis. All went along swimmingly until the Marquis was accused of the murder of a drunken hunter, Riley Luffsey. 

As the Marquis languished in jail, he wrote an angry letter to his neighbor, Theodore Roosevelt, accusing Roosevelt of framing him for the crime. Roosevelt replied, "I am most emphatically not your enemy."

Acquitted of the murder charges, the Marquis shook the dust of the town from his feet and departed for New York City. 

Only the chimney and the buildings' foundations remain.

In 1907, a fire broke out in the meat packing plant, a disaster that forced the closing of the plant. The town of Medora dwindled until the Theodore Roosevelt National Park was established in 1947, bringing tourists to the town. According to the spokeswoman at Medora's visitor information center, the town's population of 112 people, numbered in the 2010 Census, swells 90 percent during the tourist season, an astounding statistic. 

So, there you have it!  A brief history lesson about the boom, bust and rebirth of this frontier town!

We are en route to Glacier National Park, a place neither Tim nor I have ever been.  This road trip has already led us to some very spectacular spots.  Yet, people we've talked to have told us that Glacier is stunning.  We're excited to see Glacier's beauty for ourselves.  

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