Theodore Roosevelt's AZ Rough Riders to visit Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle Natinal Monument commemorates the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt Oct. 30.

Montezuma Castle Natinal Monument commemorates the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt Oct. 30.

Troop 1A of the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association will be joining staff and visitors at Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde, Saturday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., commemorating the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt and the accomplishments of northern Arizona's "Rough Riders."

From 10:30 a.m. to noon, special speakers will discuss the legacy of Mr. Roosevelt, including his role in designating 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and over 200 national forests, bird reservations, game preserves and reclamation projects during his tenure as the nation's 26th President. On Dec. 8, 1906, Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Montezuma Castle, along with El Morro and Petrified Forest, as one of the nation's first four national monuments. Devil's Tower in Wyoming was the country's first national monument, having been proclaimed in Sept of that same year.

Also during the morning session, members of the Rough Riders Historical Association will discuss Theodore Roosevelt's military career including recruiting, training, and leading the First Volunteer Cavalry of the Spanish-American War. An emphasis will be on the contributions of northern Arizona's Troop A, the first volunteers in the country to fill recruitment quotas in 1898.

The accomplishments of Prescott's William Owen (Buckey) O'Neill, first to volunteer and captain of Troop A, will also be a topic. Writer, mayor, and Sheriff Buckey O'Neill, also occasionally worked as a guide to Montezuma Castle, bringing scientists, historians and photographers from Prescott to the Verde Valley. He also served as adjutant general for the territory of Arizona, resigning this post to recruit and serve under the command of Col. Roosevelt. Captain O'Neill lost his life at the battle for the San Juan Hills in 1898, and a bronze statue honoring him and the Rough Riders was dedicated at Court House Square in Prescott July 3, 1907.

From noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 30, visitors will have an opportunity to discuss the 1898 era with members of Troop 1A, the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association. This commemorative group, based in northern Arizona, participates in living history demonstrations dressed in authentic period dress. Today's "Rough Riders", accompanied by their ladies, carry appropriate weapons and military gear for the public's examination, and in informal presentations they also address the cause and effects of the Spanish-American War and social customs of the era.

Regular admission fees apply October 30, but there is no additional charge for the program. There is no fee for children 15 and younger and Federal recreational passes are accepted, including the Senior, Annual, and Access passes.

Montezuma Castle National Monument is located off Interstate 17, exit 289, and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Christmas Day. Summer hours, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., are in effect from Memorial Day through the Labor Day weekend. For additional information, call (928) 567-3322, ext. 0.

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