The date is April 1905. A rugged time during the turn of the century. President Theodore Roosevelt’s health bounces back from a case of malaria, who then decides to explore north of Glenwood Springs after being bed-ridden.
“He had always marked himself as a conservationist, yet that particular trip, when he was taken into the backcountry of Colorado was sort of an eye-opening experience for him, so the story goes”, tells Peter Booth the Executive Director of Museums Of The West.
During his outdoor adventure, not only does he take down a bear he described as “a big male weighing 330 pounds”, but he also became very sick with what was known at the time as Cuban Fever.
“He discovered there in that trip, though it was a successful hunting trip, how devastated Colorado and Rocky Mountain wildlife was at that time”, says Booth.
Populations of Mule Deer, Mountain Lions, and other wildlife were slowly disappearing from the area due to dense hunting.
Partway through their adventure, a ferocious blizzard came trapping them in their camp until the month of May.
“And this was yet another reason that contributed to his desire to push through various conservation projects”, says Booth.
His feats and accomplishments during this trip garnered much attention towards him nationally, touting his outdoor skills and bravery.
A year later, he enacted the Antiquities Act of 1906 allowing future Presidents to proclaim historic landmarks without having to go through Congress.
“So, Roosevelt then put his energy and political might behind getting measures passed to protect both the environment, conservation, and archeological sites”, says Booth.
It wasn’t until a trip in 1911 from succeeding President, William Howard Taft, proclaimed the Colorado National Monument to be the 17th official landmark under the Antiquities Act of 1906, solidifying its presence here in the Grand Valley for more than a century.