Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chateau de Mores - Medora North Dakota

Remember when we said there is always a railroad story well here comes another one about the Chateau de Mores. This site memorializes the life and activities in North Dakota of Antoine de Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Mores, who arrived in the area in 1883 the same year as Teddy Roosevelt. There was a railroad stop in the area and the Marquis had the business idea of slaughtering cattle here and shipping them east in refrigerated railroad cars that he designed.

He first built this hunting cabin for a summer residence so he could setup his enterprises.

The residence was derogatorily called a chateau by the locals as the Marquis was not really liked by the locals since he never socialized with them. Here is a photo of the Marquis.

The only one he socialized with in the area was Teddy Roosevelt and out of town guests. He also built a beef packing plant and raised cattle and sheep in the area. He wanted to base his operations in the existing town of Little Missouri but they called him a "crazy frenchman". Not appreciating the welcome he started a new town just across the river, had to be near the railroad stop after all, and called the town Medora in honor of his wife. With all the new activity going on Medora flourished and Little Missouri died out.

In addition to the beef packing plant and the refrigerated railroad car company the Marquis also started a freight business and a stagecoach line. The only things remaining in the area though are the chimney from meat packing plant and the Chateau, a 26-room, two story frame building built on the hill overlooking his new town and plant. Managed by the North Dakota State Historical Society it is now a house museum and contains many of the original furnishings and personal effects of the family. It is the most visited site managed by the historical society so we guess the locals like the Marquis now. They even erected this statue in downtown Medora to honor him.

There is so much personal stuff in the Chateau because once the business failed, at a loss of $1.5 Million in 1880s dollars, the family never returned or had their belongings shipped back to France. Right off the bat the Chicago meat packing industry did not like the competition and with their pals the railroad companies effectively boycotted the new enterprise. The preference of meat eaters was corn fed beef not prairie grass fed beef which also did not help. Finally, there were droughts and frigid winters that killed off most of the herds. Bankruptcy was declared and the Chateau was mostly abandoned except for a caretaker, what the docents called the boarding house era. With the demise of the business and the herds the town of Medora became a ghost town.

We took a one hour guided tour of the Chateau and we really enjoyed it. Here is the hunting cabin up close.

Here is the view from the front porch showing the chimney from the meat packing plant and the town of Medora behind all the trees which were not there in the 1880s.

On the tour we saw the formal dining room.

the kitchen

an upstairs bedroom with a bathtub

the hunting room where all the hunts started

the custom built bathtub for the Marquis

proof that women always obsessed about their hair

the Marquisa's sitting room

the living room

In the living room we saw the neatest bookcase

There is also a carriage house, stable and coachman house on the grounds that you can tour. These buildings have undergone on restoration, they are as they were in the 1880s.

We really enjoyed the tour of the Chateau and the entire Medora area. We plan to visit again since this was such a short stay and you should to. More photos of all our stops in Medora are now on in the Medora set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


  1. It's been so long since we've been to Medora. Now we really need to go back again. Thanks for the tour of the hunting "cabin".

  2. Interesting little story about the refrigeration cars.

  3. Interesting history lesson. Thanks much.

  4. Medora is our list of places to visit while we're in this area. Thanks for the tour of the Chateau

  5. I love these types of tour. I would think a 26-room, two story frame building would be called a mansion back in those days. Great job with the post.