The memorial to Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, is very unique! It’s not at all like any of DC’s other memorials. It’s an Island! It’s an entire island in the middle of the Potomac River. It is 88 acres of wooded parkland dedicated totally to Teddy Roosevelt, as many people called him.
Any thoughts about why an island would be a fitting memorial for Theodore Roosevelt? It’s quite unusual!
Well, he is remembered most for his accomplishments in conserving public lands for forests, national parks, wildlife and bird refuges, and monuments. While he was president he set aside land for 150 National Forests, and 5 National Parks. He created the U.S.’s first 51 Federal Bird Reservations, the first 18 National Monuments, the first 4 National Game Preserves, and the first 21 Reclamation Projects!! In total he conserved 230 million acres of land, which is a land area equivalent to that of all the East Coast states from Maine to Florida. That’s a lot of conservation! And it was all done at a time when the very idea of taking care of our trees and our land and our water in a way that would leave them in good shape for future generations to use was a new concept. And it was not a very popular concept either.
Among the National Parks that Teddy Roosevelt established are the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Muir Woods in California, Devil's Tower in Wyoming and Jewel Cave in South Dakota.
The Teddy Roosevelt Island has 2 1/2 miles of foot trails through the natural habitat of all sorts of local flora (plants) and fauna (animals). In a small clearing in the middle of the island there is a 17-foot bronze statue of Teddy Roosevelt himself, as if he’s standing there looking out over the natural things he loved so much. There are also two fountains and four 21-foot granite tablets inscribed with some of his personal philosophy. All together they give you an idea of how Teddy thought and what was important to him.
Below: Enrollees from the Civilian Conservation Corps worked hard to implement the Olmsted Brothers plan for Roosevelt Island. They cleared acres of brush and planted tens of thousands of trees. (circa 1935)