The massive wood-columned mahogany bar in the Elks #1199 was once frequented and patronized by the “legendary” Teddy Roosevelt and Tom Mix. Roosevelt, who lived in Medora during the early and middle 1880’s, had come to the Dakota Territory for his health and to hunt the buffalo. He later became a United States Marshall and organized a Stockman’s Association to protect the ranchers from cattle rustlers.
When national prohibition was repealed in about 1910 and 3.2 beers became legal, William John Rigg of Bismarck learned of the history of the bar and made a trip to Wibaux, Montana to purchase it. Mr. Rigg was convinced of the history and stories about the famous bar were true and accurate. He promptly moved the bar into the Lenhardt Building on Broadway in downtown Bismarck, ND.
During this time, Rigg operated the bar. After his death, his wife Rosie remarried and moved the bar into the Hinckley Building, just north of the Grand Pacific Hotel. She sold the liquor license in 1961 to the Holiday Inn. Since the Holiday Inn did not need the old bar and equipment, they sold it to the Elks Lodge. After this, the historic bar went into storage.
After planning a re-design of their original building on North 4th St. the Elks Trustees abandoned all remodeling plans and decided to start over. They purchased 13 acres and build the present Elks Lodge on South Washington. By now, the now famous “Roosevelt Bar” was becoming more valuable each day. This prompted the trustees to take it out of storage and install the “Historic Roosevelt Bar” in the upper TR Lounge & Grill at the new lodge building.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Since 1966, thousands of Elks members have enjoyed this historic bar, just as Teddy Roosevelt and Tom mix did so many years ago.