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Documentarian releases Theodore Roosevelt film

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More than 125 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt could have been seen walking through the Badlands snapping photographs.

Today those pictures, along with more recent footage taken while retracing his steps, can be seen worldwide in a recently released documentary titled "Theodore Roosevelt: A Cowboy's Ride to the White House."

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The film was produced by Darrell Dorgan, a Regent native and executive director of the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, and was released worldwide Wednesday.

"'A Cowboy's Ride to the White House' is the exciting story of a physically challenged young man from Harvard who came to the Western frontier in 1883," Dorgan said.

Theodore Roosevelt bought a ranch, learned how to ride, shoot, hunt and acquired the skills that would make him a war hero and American president, Dorgan added.

The documentary was filmed on location at the Roosevelt ranches in the heart of the North Dakota Badlands, as well as New York and Maine.

The crew of three filmed for 2½ years.

"The exciting thing about the film is that we retrace his steps," Dorgan said. "We stood where he stood and saw what he saw."

One big discovery Dorgan made while filming was that Roosevelt had a camera with him while he stayed in the Badlands.

"There had always been rumor that he did, so we got in touch with Harvard University about it and, sure enough, the curator had about a dozen pictures that Roosevelt had taken," Dorgan said.

Dorgan said holding those pictures was a memorable moment because he was able to see what Roosevelt wanted to share with others about what he was experiencing in North Dakota.

The pictures are shown in the documentary.

Dorgan said the life experiences of the nation's 26th president are brought to life in the film by historians H.W. Brands, Douglas Brinkley, Clay Jenkinson and Roosevelt's great-grandson Tweed Roosevelt.

Before the worldwide release, the documentary was shown on 170 Public Broadcasting Stations nationwide.

"I am very excited about this documentary," said Sharon Kilzer, manager of the Theodore Roosevelt Center Project at Dickinson State University. "Darrell Dorgan is an excellent filmmaker and we hope to feature his film in some way at the next Theodore Roosevelt Symposium this fall."

This is not Dorgan's first documentary.

He has been in the filmmaking business for 20 years, telling the tales of such greats as Gen. Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull and Lewis and Clark.

The documentary will air again on public television, but Dorgan was not sure of the date.

Dorgan is the brother of former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan.

The documentary can be purchased on Amazon.com, dorganfilms.com or at Western Edge Books, Artwork and Music in Medora or the North Dakota State Historical Society in Bismarck.

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