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The Rollercoaster History of Grand Teton National Park

Image: NPS

Grand Teton National Park has quite the history when it comes to its founding! You ready for this rollercoaster ride?

Chapter 1:

As a brief aside, we’re talking about the Rocky Mountains’ youngest range (and one of the youngest in the world!), which happens to have some of the oldest rocks you’ll find on the continent.

Chapter 2:

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., purchased a whole lot of land in northwest Wyoming in the mid 1920s with the initial intention of eventually donating it to the government. For identity protection, he bought 33,000 acres under the Snake River Land Company name, and he kept it for 15 years. He eventually threatened to sell it, which prompted action by FDR—see Chapter 4.

Chapter 3:

President Calvin Coolidge, despite vociferous Congressional dissent, signed the park into existence in February, 1929, less than a week before his presidency concluded. The act protected 96,000 acres of land, including the 40-mile-long Teton Range and six glacial lakes.

Chapter 4:

Area residents were strongly opposed to any further expansion, so when President Roosevelt unilaterally established a wildlife reserve called Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943 that encompassed most of the adjacent valley, angered ranchers created a massive cattle-drive by rustling hundreds and hundreds of cattle across the designated area. Their legendary protest was led by Academy Award-winning, and highest paid at the time, actor Wallace Beery.

Chapter 5:

During and after WW2, Wyoming tried to have the JHNM rescinded. When no one was willing to budge after many repeated attempts, a compromise was reached:

1. The Jackson Hole National Monument would be added to the original Coolidge-established park.
2. In exchange, ranchers were allowed to keep their existing grazing rights.
3. The National Elk Refuge—the southern end of the JHNM—would not be included in the merger, but the elk herd would still be partly managed by the state and allow for some hunting.
4. Wyoming was exempted from the Antiquities Act, meaning Congress has to approve the establishment of further national monuments in the state rather than the president being able to do so alone via executive order.

Chapter 6:

Thus, Grand Teton National Park came to be (re-)established in its current size and area on September 14, 1950, by President Truman.

Whew! That’s a heck of a story, huh? Plenty of details to be had, but at least you get the general overview. If you want to find out a whole lot more, reach out to the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museumhttps://www.seejh.com/…/jackson-hole-historical-society-mus… ! Have you been to the Historical Museum? It’s great!

Did you know about #GTNP’s founding history?

Better than the Golden Arches!!!

 

Jackson Hole is known for a great many terrific things. One of them resides in downtown Jackson proper, our beloved antler arches! There are four of them standing at the Town Square’s corners. Our Town Square’s official name is George Washington Memorial Park, by the way, so designated in 1932 to commemorate our great first president’s birth.

With the first one built in 1953 in the southwest corner, and the other three erected between ‘66 and ‘69, the original arches had plenty of pictures snapped with and without admirers for 60 years. Then between 2007 and 2013, there was an undertaking to replace them with successors.

Each antler weighs somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds, with each arch eventually reaching upwards of 10,000 pounds. Gathered from the National Elk Refuge with help from the Boy Scouts, antlers for the arches are never in short supply.

Oh, and don’t forget about John Colter! His memorial has been standing magnificently since 1939, before the arches. Part of the revered Lewis & Clark Expedition, he’s the first known person of European descent to lay eyes on Yellowstone and the Tetons! Colter’s considered the first “mountain man”, having spent months alone in the wilderness.

Have you seen our arches and been to the Square?!

Image: @rnashleyyy on IG

Purple Mountains Majesty!

 

You’ve seen tons and tons of pictures of our beloved Teton Mountains; and if you’ve seen them in person, you’ve been awed and numbed by their beauty and power. What do you say we make formal introductions between them and you so you can know them better?

Their neighborhood stretches approximately 40 miles (64 km), from Idaho’s border to Yellowstone National Park. The Shoshone tribe called them the Teewinots, or “many pinnacles”, and French frontiersmen named them les trois tetons, or “the three nipples”. It’s the new neighborhood on the block, so to speak, because the Teton Range is the Rocky Mountains’ youngest range. The Teton Fault’s eastern block shifted upward to build up the mountains, and its western block fell to create the valley that you know as Jackson Hole. The Teton neighborhood is particularly stunning among the world’s ranges because the drop is so sharp as to lack any foothills or low-lying peaks, thus creating an unobscured, deeply contrasting view between the valley’s floor and mountains’ sides and summits. It is remarkably stunning and needs to be seen in person to truly absorb the incredible scene!

The biggest ones in the family are the five that make up the Cathedral Group: Grand Teton at 13,775 ft.; Mt. Owen at 12,928 ft.; Teewinot at 12,325 ft.; Middle Teton at 12,804 ft.; and South Teton at 12,514 ft. Other well-known peaks include Mt. Moran (12,605 ft.), Mt. Wister (11,490 ft.), and Statis Peak (11,303 ft.)

The Tetons are so visually mesmerizing that Hollywood has been regularly using them as a backdrop and players in a variety of film and show, including John Wayne’s introduction to cinema audiences with his film debut in 1930’s “The Big Trail”.

The Tetons may not live in a crowded area, but they are as well-known throughout the world as are Times Square and the Eiffel Tower!

Have you visited them in person?!

 

 

The Lay of the Jackson Hole Land

Today, we’d like to provide some geographical specifics for our incredible guests to our beautiful area! While most people know our town as Jackson Hole, our town is officially named Jackson. The Hole is actually the valley in which we’re found. So what does the Hole encompass?

To start, the Hole is 13 miles wide by 48 miles long, and it sits at around 6,500 feet up.

Jackson is the only incorporated town. Other towns include Wilson, Teton Village, Moran Junction, Hoback, Moose, and Kelly. Jackson is at the south end, nestled up against Snow King. The world-class Jackson Hole Airport is located around the center. Along the valley’s perimeters are Snow King, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and Grand Targhee Resort.

The Hole’s western side is walled by the majestic Teton Range, while its eastern side runs along the impressive Gros Ventre Range. Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Lake take up the northwestern reaches. The National Elk Refuge is also in the valley.

The Snake River courses through the valley’s entirety starting in the north at Yellowstone and running into the Snake River Canyon in the south.

SeeJH has an extensive number of real-time cameras set up throughout the Hole. You can find them here: https://www.seejh.com/webcams .

(Image: Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce)