TAMPA — This week 117 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt and the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment — better known as the Rough Riders — took a train to Tampa, laden with mules and guns. They stayed for two weeks before commandeering a coal train to take them to Port Tampa, sailed to fight the Spanish American War in Cuba and charged up the San Juan Hill and into history.
The Rough Riders left behind a third of their men and a city dotted with historical sites, some of which have become a vibrant part of Tampa's history. Here's a look back at some Times stories about the Rough Riders' place in local lore.
In 2000, the city prevented the destruction of an oak tree ( tbtim.es/j30) that shaded Roosevelt's troops.
The Ybor City building that served as Roosevelt's stables became a microbrewery, which in 2009 underwent an environmentally friendly renovation ( tbtim.es/j31).
The old Tampa Bay Hotel, where Roosevelt organized his men, still stands as the Henry B. Plant Museum ( tbtim.es/j32) across from Curtis Hixon Park, which reopened in 2010 ( tbtim.es/j33). One of the companies' campsites, at today's N Howard Avenue, became an armory and this year began undergoing a $26 million renovation to be turned into a community center ( tbtim.es/j34).
Today, the Rough Riders' memory is used for preservation and charity. A nonprofit organization with the same name ( tbtim.es/j35) raises money for several causes and community organizations. In 2012, they restored a gazebo ( tbtim.es/j36) in the Spanish-American War Memorial Park in Port Tampa, near where the original companies finagled their way onto a Cuba-bound ship. Among other events, the Tampa Rough Riders host an annual St. Patrick's Day parade and fishing tournament. This year's tournament is set for June 12–13 — the anniversary of the original Rough Riders' departure for Cuba.