Most people correlate the badlands of North Dakota with Theodore Roosevelt. After all, our 26th president once said,“I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” Roosevelt was, indeed, deeply tied to western North Dakota. He ranched in the badlands from 1883 – 1887. It was there his rugged character and physical stamina was most determined. Information about that can easily be found at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, North Dakota. And more of Roosevelt’s quotes are recorded on the Theodore Roosevelt National Park website.
Meet the Marquis and Marquise
A contemporary of Theodore Roosevelt might be lesser known, but had as great an impact on the badlands area. Meet Antoine-Amédée-Marie-Vincent Manca Amat de Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Morès et de Montemaggiore. He was more commonly known as Marquis de Mores.
Rugged, Successful, and Fearless
The Marquis was a well educated French nobleman, versed in the arts as well as knives and firearms and business matters. He was known to be a top notch duelist. Many viewed him as a fearless swashbuckling figure. He arrived in the badlands in 1883.
A Revolutionary Idea
The Marquis built a meat packing plant which used refrigerated railroad cars to ship locally raised beef, freshly slaughtered, to points across the eastern US. It operated from 1883 until 1887, not a successful venture. Perhaps the Marquis’ longest lasting claim to fame is the town he founded, named after his wife the Marquise, Medora. It is the most popular tourist attraction in North Dakota.
Chateau de Mores
The same year a home was built for Medora, wife of the Marquis, sometimes referred to as Marquise. High on a hill overlooking the meat packing plant,the home became a symbol of affluence. The North Dakota State Historical Society oversees the Chateau and its grounds. The Chateau de Mores Interpretive Center, which opened in 2008, offers a detailed insight into the Marquis and Marquise, their time in the badlands, and the summer home they built.
Chateau Christmas Celebration
Fundamental to the commemoration of the Christmas holidays are gatherings of people, and at the heart of those gatherings is food! So what better way for the Chateau de Mores to join in when Medora recently celebrated its Old Fashioned Cowboy Christmas 2018.
Ukrainian, German, Czech
And what better food to feature than ethnic foods from the area, representative of many of the early ranchers and homesteaders in western North Dakota. The Ethnic Christmas Buffet featured Ukrainian and Eastern European cuisine.
Four Corners Cafe and Catering
The food was catered by a favorite regional eatery, the Four Corners Cafe and Catering, Fairfield, North Dakota. Their offerings proved to be the real deal, authentic! Attendance for this event was high, and I’d wager the reputation of Jesse and Cindy and Deanna at Four Corners was part of the draw! Their hospitable demeanor and extensive knowledge of the food of their cultural roots is second to none. A visit to their cafe in Fairfield is like stopping in at home to see what’s cookin’!
Choices? Try Them All!
On the menu were Ukrainian, German, and Czech foods. Included were Meatballs, Smoked Sausage, Cabbage Rolls/Holubtsi, Pyrohy/Perogies (Potato, Cheese, and Kraut), German Potato Salad, Fruit Salad, Borsch Soup, Knoephla Soup, and desserts of Christmas Cookies and Hrustyky (Ukrainian fried cookies), along coffee, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider! Hands down, there was no reason to choose. We sampled them all!
Chateau Celebration Success
Needless to say, we enjoyed our Christmas celebration experience at the Chateau de Mores Interpretive Center near Medora. We’ll be going back to view the exhibits in depth. After winter when the Chateau itself is once again open for the season, we’ll tour it. Our experience at this event, has peaked our interest! There’s much more to learn about the Marquis and Medora and the Chateau than we realized!
Check Out Fairfield
We’ll be back at Four Corners Cafe again, soon. The service and the food can’t be beat. The pie? It’s worth a long drive! Good word has it that the Carrot Cake is…..well, so good it sells out quickly! We just might call to order an entire cake to make sure we get a piece! Check out their Facebook page for information on daily offerings, and any variance in operating hours due to special events and catering. Jesse and Cindy and their staff will not disappoint you. In fact, you’ll want to go back again. And probably again! We do!
Lefse! It’s the other ethnic Christmas treat! Sample it here!
If you like to cook, or just like to read cookbooks, you’ll like this one! It could be the best cookbook in western North Dakota!
Like to check out eateries and coffee shops in western North Dakota? Here’s a coffee shop which surprised us! Go to Beach! Park Cafe and Golden Valley Outfitters.
Want to savor those badlands you just visited? Or want to share them with others? Check out our photographs here: We Love Those Badlands, and the People Who Live There!