Posts tagged Harold Schafer

Remembering Harold Schafer and His Medora Legacy on His Birthday

Remembering Harold Schafer and His Medora Legacy on His Birthday

“My guess is that if I have a legacy, it’s going to be Medora, North Dakota.”

Those were the words of our founder, Harold Schafer, during an interview in 1997. In that wide-ranging discussion, he spoke about his philosophy on hard work, his success as a businessman, and the revitalization of historic Medora that he helped kick-start.

“Medora is real. It has real history. It’s not quite so flashy as Six Flags Over Texas,” Harold said, “but Medora has a greatness to it also.”

It was a greatness that couldn’t have happened without Harold’s help. In 1962 he renovated the Rough Riders Hotel. A few years later, the show we now know as the Medora Musical debuted in the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. And in the decades that followed, a run-down cowtown had become one of the country’s most exciting destinations for tourism.

“You can walk around the parking lot [at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre] and find cars from 30 or 40 different states in one night at the show,” he marveled in 1997.

That was twenty-five years ago—and it just so happened that during that interview, Harold was asked, “What’s Medora going to look like 25 years from now?”

Harold’s answer might surprise you: “I haven’t the slightest idea!”

He continued, “I had no knowledge it would ever be where it is now. I had no outline in my mind that it would grow like this. And if it should continue to grow, I don’t know what it’s going to be. But I think it’s going to continue to grow.”

We wish Harold could see what Medora has become 25 years after that interview. We believe he’d be proud of it.

On this, Harold’s 110th birthday, we’re remembering our founder fondly. We invite you to watch this excerpt from that 1997 interview. Harold doesn’t just discuss Medora; he covers his legacy, his philosophy of work, and more. It’s a fascinating look at a remarkable man!

“Bully!” for North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation sees passage of Presidential Library funding as next great moment in history for the state


(MEDORA, ND) – In the early 1950s, Harold Schafer peered over the edge of the butte overlooking the tiny village of Medora and proclaimed, “There’s too much here to let disappear.” His son, Ed, standing by his side, took in the broken-down, old cow town with dirt streets and a ramshackle hotel named for Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and thought to himself, “But—there’s nothing there!”    

Yet, this was the moment that North Dakota’s tourism industry was born.

Harold saw an opportunity to create something wonderful for generations to come. He didn’t have an eminently-detailed plan that considered every possible scenario, or a multi-page budget document projecting every income and expense, but he knew the legend of Theodore Roosevelt translated across the globe and that his ‘Bully Spirit’ could inspire millions.

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The Greatest Optimist I Have Ever Met

(Continuing with our peek into the correspondence files between Harold and Antoine “Tony” de Vallombrosa, grandson of the Marquis and Medora de Mores, after Harold had purchased the Marquis family’s holdings in Medora. Here’s an exchange of letters from 1963. Try to imagine Harold onstage as Teddy Roosevelt!)

February 24, 1963

Dear Friend Harold,

I cannot let the New Year in without sending you my best wishes as my past year’s trip to Bismarck and Medora was for me one of the highlights of 1962—it was greatly so thanks to you and your understanding.

Here I am thousands of miles away and yet frequently I think of you as the greatest optimist I have ever met. This was confirmed by reading very completely the 20th anniversary Gold Seal Report. (Harold had mailed Tony a copy of his company’s full-color 20th anniversary report.)

So whenever I feel depressed and need a good example I think to myself all I need is a little more will power.

I have been exercising plenty to get back in shape but the going is still rough—circulatory problems and varicose veins are difficult to eliminate.

I hope you are in good shape. I enjoyed visiting your horse ranch and your hospitality. I was sorry not to see your New York associates and expect to reach them next time. Knowing you are obviously continuously coming with new ideas and making constructive use of them, I would very much appreciate hearing more about your fabulous Gold Seal Co. Also if any major activities around Medora and the Badlands are being considered I would enjoy keeping up with what is going on. Hoping this long letter is not boring you. I feel again sorry not to have been able to personally thank all the very kind people I met in Bismarck.

Very sincerely,
Antoine de Vallombrosa

June 13, 1963

Dear Friend Antoine,

I was in Medora and worked all day Monday this week. Among other things I find out that I own the original little home your grandfather lived in before he built the chateau. We got to checking and it has the old square nails on the siding and is still standing exactly where it was, on the north side of the Rough Riders Hotel. I am thinking of ripping off a few lean-to sheds that have been built on it and preserving it as a historical unit. (Note: eventually this building became the little white Bake Shop, which sat beside the old Rough Riders Hotel for many years, and has now been converted to a guest house just down the street to the south of the Hotel.)

The drama, Teddy Roosevelt’s Life in North Dakota, is starting the 26th of June in the Burning Hills Amphitheater. Please keep in mind our past conversation and some summer when you have nothing to do and want a little excitement, spend a few weeks with me in Medora – you play the part of your grandfather and I’ll play the part of Teddy Roosevelt, or one of the cattle rustlers – I think it would be fun. I gave your name to Mr. and Mrs. Andre Richard who plan to visit in France in the next week or two. Andre is the manager of our Andre Richard Division of the Gold Seal Company in New York City. If they happen to be anywhere near you, they may give you a call.


Sincerely yours,
Harold Schafer

Medora lives up to the hype for these folks!

This story was originally written by Bismarck Tribune publisher, Gary Adkisson and titled Medora, park live up to the hype.

My wife and I made our first “in-season” visit to Medora and it exceeded our expectations.

We had made a brief stop in Medora last fall, after most of the entertainment venues had closed for the season, so we were excited to get the full Medora experience last weekend.

 

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Greg Butler Steps Up Once Again

The Elkhorn Quarters $1 Million Match Challenge

There’s a brand new Medora lodging facility awaiting our guests this summer!

The Elkhorn Quarters, our new motel and seasonal staff housing complex, has replaced the old Bunkhouse trailers, and a big reason for that is the generosity of our longtime supporter Greg Butler of Fargo.

 

 

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Broadway in the Badlands 

All of the shows playing in Medora’s Old Town Hall Theater this summer, fall and winter season
 

(Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation is excited to announce the shows visitors can look forward to this season at the Old Town Hall Theater, in downtown Medora.

This summer the Old Town Hall Theater will be host to four shows playing all week long.

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Summer 2017 Rough Riders Review!

Here it is, our Summer 2017 Rough Riders Review!

 

Take a look! We’re excited to share it with you!

 

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF). Perks of joining TRMF include free Medora Musical tickets, free Bully Pulpit Golf Course passes, and our quarterly Rough Riders Review. 

Learn more and sign up here.

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Spring 2017 Rough Riders Review

Spring 2017 Rough Riders Review

Check out our Spring 2017 Rough Riders Review below!

 

We are excited to share with you all that is happening here at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF)!
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Schafer Stories

Schafer Stories as told by Randy Hatzenbuhler – President of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

 

  •  Met the Schafers in 1988
  • Became President of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation in 1997

 

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Schafer Stories

Schafer Stories

Schafer Stories: as told by Randy Hatzenbuhler TRMF President

  • Met the Schafers in 1988
  • Became President of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation in 1997

 

Interviewed June 19, 2017

 

“I came to Medora because of Rod Tjaden, who was as good of a boss as you could have.
But I stayed and fell in love with Medora because of Harold Schafer.
I remember my very first recollection of Harold.

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