Mount Roosevelt in South Dakota is maintained by the Black Hills National Forest as a recreational trail and picnic area where the 5,690-foot summit is dominated by the Friendship Tower— a stone memorial that rises about 25 feet above the surrounding meadow.
Friendship Tower was built by Seth Bullock in 1919 in honor of his friend President Theodore Roosevelt. Bullock, a former sheriff of Deadwood, S.D., wanted to create a memorial of his friend’s life and a place where people could view wide open spaces that both Bullock and Roosevelt had become so fond of during their lives. He had met Roosevelt, then a deputy sheriff from Medora, N.D., in 1884. The two quickly became lifelong friends, Roosevelt later saying of Bullock, “Seth Bullock is a true Westerner, the finest type of frontiersman.”
Boxelder Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center bricklaying and welding students have been working to reinforce the base and fully restore the monument for public use.
The students and a stone mason specializing in historical restoration restored and repaired the original rock masonry of the tower. A foundation was constructed under the base to help direct drainage away from the tower, and stairs were reconstructed to make the structure compliant with current federal safety standards. The restoration work on the tower was funded by the Recovery Act.
“The goal of the restoration effort is to ensure the long-term integrity of the structure,” said Marissa Karchut, the forest’s North Zone Archaeologist.
Twenty-one year old Nick Andrews, a student at Boxelder, was looking for real world bricklaying experience, and he found lots of it while restoring the tower. “It is nice to give back to the public,” he said about his restoration efforts. “I learned responsibility and leadership skills.”