I spotted this sign in Tampa while waiting at a traffic light yesterday. A huge Theodore Roosevelt fan, I flipped a quick u-turn so I could learn more. I’ve done a bit of reading about our dynamic 26th President over the years and I hold him in high regard. His namesake national park is one of my favorite parks in our entire system.
I knew that Roosevelt and the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (aka the Rough Riders) fought in Cuba during the Spanish American War, but I didn’t recall that they left from Tampa. Thankfully, Vila Brothers Park preserves one of the campsites used by the Rough Riders in 1898 as they waited to ship out.
There wasn’t much to see at the small park so I drove a few miles south to explore another green space. The block wall that separates Ballast Point Park from the Tampa Yacht and Country Club was covered in murals.
While most of the sections depicted marine life (dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and manatees) I was pleasantly surprised to see a portion dedicated to Roosevelt and the “Cowboy Cavalry”. What random luck to stumble across these two mementos to history!
*Though popularly used, Roosevelt abhorred the nickname Teddy. This and other fascinating details can be gleaned from Mornings on Horseback, David McCullough’s thorough and engaging biography.
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