For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit North Dakota, a destination not to be missed is the Chateau de Mores in Medora.Â In 1883 the Marquis de Mores came to the badlands in western Dakota with the grand plan of making his fortune raising beef, dressing it and then sending it by refrigerated cars to the big cities in the east.
However, his many interests in other businesses, including a stagecoach line between Medora and Deadwood, and his mishandling of funds, eventually led to the ruin of his meat packing business.
Summers in Medora
While the Marquis and his family spent winters in New York or in France, the Chateau was their summer home in Medora, where they hosted friends and royalty from New York and Europe.Â Both the Marquis and Marquise were avid hunters and enjoyed taking their visitors on elaborate hunts.
One of their neighbors in Medora, Theodore Roosevelt, preferred a very simple life in a small cabin, while the de Moreses preferred the more elegant style of Europe. Sadly, the Marquis and Marquise only lived in the house for three summers, although the de Mores family held title to the Chateau until 1936, when it was donated to the state of North Dakota.
The Chateau has been beautifully refurbished and contains many original furnishings. The living room boasts a beautiful box grand piano as well as hunting trophies on the walls.Â Medora’s blue and white Minton china is on display in the dining room.Â Of particular interest are the saddles belonging to the Marquis and Marquise which are on display in the hunting room.
History Alive Program
The highlight of a summer visit is the History Alive program, with performances by both the Marquis and Marquise de Mores at the Chateau.Â I had the opportunity toÂ see the performance of the Marquis and he was living history at its best.Â He shared the story of his life in Medora, the failures of his meat packing industry, his adoration for his wife and children, his trial for a murder he did not commit.
The Marquis was so believable, it felt like we had stepped back to 1883.Â Â History doesn’t get much better than this! My only disappointment is that I wasn’t in Medora long enough to see Madame de Mores.
New Chateau Interpretive Center
A new interpretive center opened at the Chateau in the spring of 2008.Â Housed there is a Deadwood stage, a small-scale refrigerator car and an exhibit entitled Rails, Ranching and Riches:Â The Marquis de Mores in Dakota.Â The center has interactive exhibits and is housed in a 8600 square foot facility.
For anyone wishing to read the story of the Marquis, the following are a few of the resources available:
Aristocracy on the Western Frontier, The Legacy of the Marquis de Mores, edited by Virginia Heidenrich-Barber
The Career of the Marquis de Mores in the Badlands of North Dakota, author Arnold O. Goplen
For additional information on the Marquis de Mores, please contact the State Historical Society of North Dakota.