Jackson Lake Lodge Walking Tour

I’ve recently noticed a bronze plaque that stands right outside the portico of Jackson Lake Lodge.  It celebrates the buildings claim to being a historic buliding.  It got me thinking about how little I know about the history of my new home as I am an employee of Jackson Lake Lodge.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a Historic Walking tour of the Lodge that didn’t require me to meet at a certain time or place, instead I just had to pick up a guide at the Activities Desk and get to walking. 

The tour begins right inside the front door in the lower lobby.  The phone booths, Arts for the Parks paintings and the staircase are some of the highlights of this space.  But my favorite tidbit was about the Indian Dress behind the Front Desk.  Did you know that it is an original dress that was used for parade or pow-wow purposes? Apparently, at one time it hung in the Stockade Bar, until it was stolen by some wranglers who cut it in half.  You can see where they stitched it back together right across the bust line.    Indian Dress

 From here we head upstairs to the Upper Lobby.  Of course the first thing you notice about this room is the amazing view!  The windows are 36 feet high and 60 feet wide and look out over Willow Flats, Jackson Lake, the Dam and the Tetons themselves.   

windows

When you finally stop looking at the view, the tour takes you into the Mural Dining Room where you are able to check out the Rendezvous Murals.  Carl Roters painted the two murals at the request of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. not long after the hotel opened.  It took him two years to paint the ten panels that span two walls and make two complete murals. All together they total nearly 80 feet and they depict the events and people who participated in the 1837 Rendezvous.

murals

 The next stop on the tour is the Pioneer Grill.  This place is great as it feels like something you would find in an old movie.  I feel like I should have a poodle skirt on as I order my huckleberry shake and sit in the swivel stools at the counter. 

 Pioneer Grill Server

Apparently this room is the same as it was back at the opening of the building in 1955.  Snaking throughout the room is one large, continuous counter and it is rumored to be the longest in the US.  Even if you don’t stop for a bite or drink, definitely check out the pictures on the wall and the items over the kitchen!

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 After my little snack, I then headed back out to the lobby where I checked out the giant fireplaces (seriously I would be able to walk into them unhindered!), the old Stockade Bar (now a gift shop) and the Peace Table.  Interesting fact about this table is that it was an old door that they took off the hinges and made into a table to host the 1989 Baker-Shevardnadze peace talks between Russia and the US.  Talk about a doorway to peace!  peaceOn my way back to the Main Lobby I went down the “Historic Hallway.”  This display is pretty cool because there are all sorts of old photographs and documents about the history of the park and area.  Definitely something to check out!  

Finding myself back in the lobby, I actually take the time to check out the other displays.  There are several islands with Indian artifacts, as well as a stuffed grizzly bear and trumpeter swan.  I never realized how large these two species are!    I also took the time to look up at the ‘wooden’ beams above, which aren’t actually wood but reinforced concrete that were stained to look like wood.  You couldn’t tell by looking at this building, but it is made almost completely of concrete!

 

 The last stop inside the building is at the Blue Heron Lounge.  This bar was one of the few additions to the building when it replaced the Stockade Bar.  Here is the place to go if you want a drink and to take in a great view!   The decorations in here are quite cool too and include various Indian artifacts like headdresses and moccasins.  You’ll also find the only television at Jackson Lake Lodge and a painting called “The Trapper’s Bride” by Charles Banks Wilson. 
 
From here there are several outdoor activities you can do ~

Lunch tree

 You can head up Lunch Tree Hill and check out the view that is said to have inspired a legacy or…

You could head out to the corrals to check out some of the vintage buses.

I did a bit of both and would definitely recommend doing this tour yourself as I learned so much about this remarkable place!

From Melissa’s Corner

Two Incredible Days on the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop

 

Looking at the Tetons from the Mural Room window, it was hard to imagine canyons between the mountains.  Actual canyons?  Like the Grand Canyon?  Coming from New Jersey, this was a difficult concept to wrap my brain around.  The plan was to hike through Paintbrush Canyon, camp for the night (after getting a back-country camping permit), and cross the Paintbrush Divide into Cascade Canyon.  From there, we’d end the trip at the Jenny Lake ferry.  The canyons could be hiked separately as day hikes as well, but our group was fired up to give camping a shot.  Driving up to Jenny Lake, we saw the route – journey into one side of a mountain and come out the other.  We had a long trek ahead of us!

Paintbrush Canyon
Paintbrush Canyon

The trip started at the String Lake trailhead, curving up through cool mountain forests.  All of a sudden, we came upon a clearing where the view opened up to Paintbrush Canyon.  It took us a few minutes to stop gasping at how beautiful the streams, flowers, and mountains were that surrounded us.  The sight was truly a treasure to see, one of the most spectacular I’ve seen anywhere.  The climb was steady, but not too taxing, and we made it up to our “Outlier” campsite after about five miles.  We set up camp, took a few more pictures, and called it a night.

The next day, we climbed three miles to Paintbrush Divide, passing by carpets of wildflowers and mini lakes created by moving glaciers millions of years ago.  You feel small next to these gigantic and ancient landforms, but awed by their incredible beauty.  Reaching the Divide at 10,700 feet, we felt like we were standing on top of the world!  The views were breathtaking, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

View From Paintbrush Divide
View From Paintbrush Divide

From the Divide, the rest was all downhill – quite a relief after the climb we just had!  We descended into Cascade Canyon, stopping to relax on the shores of Lake Solitude.   It seemed like a fantasy: idyllic hidden lake surrounded on all sides by snow-covered mountain peaks.   It just kept getting better and better!   The Canyon was out of this world!   As I came to realize, the Canyon was simply a deep valley edged by mountains, with a stream flowing through.   We wound our way through the Canyon, past cascading streams and quite a few marmots.   It was humbling to be in the shadow of the Grand, and we got closer to this range’s highest peak as we pushed through the Canyon.   After a few miles, the trail made a turn into a dense forested area.   This new change in scenery came complete with a moose!   It’s amazing how you see wildlife when you least expect it.

View of Lake Solitude
View of Lake Solitude

The loop also included a visit to a few of the most popular sights on Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.   After winding through the two canyons, it was wonderful to see a different view out onto the lake from Inspiration Point.   From this spot, we were close to the ferry, but had just missed the last ride of the night (for future reference, the last trip is at 7 pm).   With our last adrenaline kick, we finally made it back to the Jenny Lake parking lot.

Those two days definitely opened my eyes to how incredible the Tetons really are.   I’ll never forget looking up at the Grand, watching waterfalls cascading down the face of a mountain, awing at a field of multi-colored wildflowers.   I just couldn’t believe how many jackpot views were contained on this hike, and all so close to the Lodge.   This loop will be a tough one to beat!

From Ellie’s Corner

Mormon Row Historic District: A Once Vibrant Community

“A ranch to the Moulton’s is more that just lands and buildings; it’s the husband, wife, and family all getting together in the field helping each other.”

-Clark Moulton, Mormon Row Homesteader, circa 1930s

 

John & Bartha Moulton Barn, Circa 1910s
John & Bartha Moulton Barn, Circa 1910s

 

As early as our American Revolutionary War, the distribution of Government lands had created a challenging issue related to land measurement and pricing.  Early methods of stepping off property plots from geographical landmarks resulted in arbitrary overlapping claims and chaotic border disputes.  The Land Ordinance of 1785 finally implemented a standard system of Federal Land Surveys that eased border conflicts by using astronomical starting points and dividing land into measurements of townships, sections, square miles, and acres.  When in 1862, the Homestead Act was passed and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, a U.S. Citizen could file claim to 160 acres of surveyed government land and after 5 years, by living on the land, improving it with a 12 by 14 foot dwelling, and growing crops, they could file a patent (deed of itle) and the property was theirs.

 

Thomas Murphy Homestead, Circa 1920s
Thomas Murphy Homestead, Circa 1920s

 

Originally known as the town of Grovont, the Mormon Row settlement did not occur until the 1890s.  The promise of land eventually drew homesteaders into Jackson Hole.  Lush sagebrush, natural fields of timothy, and the Gros Ventre River indicated a healthy soil and water supply to entice the first Mormon families to the area with hopes of beginning a new life.  With the construction of homes, ranches, churches, and schools, a true vibrant community began to blossom.  Settlers began with traditional Lodgepole Pine log homes providing basic shelter from the harsh Jackson Hole weather and evolved, with increased prosperity, into more modern houses. Barn raising was a community event. Elders and young men from various families supplied the construction ingenuity and strength while women and children provided the communal meals and picnics.  Mormon Row dispersed in the mid 1900s and only a handful of buildings remain standing today. 

 

Thomas Alma & Lucille Moulton Homestead, Circa 1910s
Thomas Alma & Lucille Moulton Homestead, Circa 1910s

 

What remains today is a remarkable look back in time: a time when log built ranches and barns dotted the landscape at the foot of Blacktail Butte, a time when barn raising was a community event, and a time when barns and homes were to the family what Church was to the community. Visiting Mormon Row provides a glimpse of early homesteading life and quiet contemplation of barn raisings, cattle drives, church services, long schooldays, skating on ice covered irrigation ditches, sledding down snow covered Blacktail Butte, berry-picking expeditions to Taggart Lake, and splashing in a nearby swimming hole filling hot summer days.

 

John & Bartha Moulton Residence, Circa 1910s
John & Bartha Moulton Residence, Circa 1910s

 

A visit to Mormon row is well worth the time.  Some of these original homestead buildings are over a hundred years old and are naturally weathering .  Enjoy them from a distance and respect the culturally historic value of the site.  Oh, by the way, an early morning photography safari may produce award winning images.

Sources:  www.archives.gov , A Place Called Jackson Hole – John Daugherty, Jackson Hole Historical Society, Grand Teton Association

Posted from Don’s Corner. Photography by Don Wells.

Wells on Wildflowers Trivia Prize

While we received many answers for our wildflower photos, Charlotte LaGrone is our winner! Congratulations to Charlotte, who won a float trip for two! Thank you to all who participated. More trivia to come!

Wells on Wildflowers

The answers revealed:

1. Arrowleaf Balsamroot
2. Sticky Geranium
3. Goatsbeard: Yellow Salsify
4. Indian Paintbrush

Lunch Tree Hill: A View that Inspired a Vision

View From Lunch Tree Hill
View From Lunch Tree Hill

 

It started with a view. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. hiked to the top of a small knoll and gazed out upon the sea of willows and towering mountain range stretched across the valley. Elk and moose grazed down below. Clouds drifted by, some bringing thunderstorms, others breezing along.

There, Rockefeller ate lunch and took in the astounding environment around him. It dawned on Mr. Rockefeller to purchase the land with the intention of donating it to the U.S. Government so this view could be shared with everyone. His 25 year quest to preserve the land had begun.

 

Grand Tetons
Looking Out at the Mountain Range

 

 

Rockefeller’s first visit to Jackson Hole was in 1926. His wife and three sons stayed at the Amoretti Inn and fell in love with the natural beauty of Jackson Hole. By 1929, the mountain peaks and the lakes near the base of the Grand Tetons were established as a national park (the boundaries of the park were later expanded in 1950 to include much of the adjacent valley floor). More visitors continued to travel through Jackson Hole and it was clear that larger accommodations were needed. Rockefeller selected a site near his favorite lunch spot, now called Lunch Tree Hill, and construction began for Jackson Lake Lodge in March of 1953.

 

A Nod to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
A Tribute to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

 

 

Today, over 2.6 million visitors come to Grand Teton National Park each year. Guests from all over the world trek up the paved path off the front terrace of Jackson Lake Lodge to Rockefeller’s favorite lunch spot. The Lodge continues to provide, activities, lodging, dining, shopping and other services for travelers. 

“Our goal is to enhance guest experience in the park,” said Bob O’Neil, Grand Teton Lodge Company Director of  Human Resources. “It’s really all about the park. How we keep it up to date and modern, but  still preserve the Rockefeller’s vision.”
 
Over 50 years later that vision remains, as the natural splendor of Grand Teton National Park is shared from one generation to the next.

 

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

*Join our interpretive specialist on a short, complimentary, interpretive walk up Lunch Tree Hill. Turn back the hands of time to 1926 and walk in the footsteps of John D. Rockefeller Jr. View the exact vistas, in the cool crisp morning air, that inspired Mr. Rockefeller’s decades long passion to preserve this mountain range known as the Grand Tetons. Learn of the important historical struggle for preservation of this unique geological mountain range, view wildlife below in Willow Flats, and take advantage of great photo opportunities in the early morning light. The walk begins at 7:15am on Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday mornings.

June Wedding Spotlight: Meredith & Webb

On June 20th, Meredith & Webb celebrated a new beginning with friends and family. Between rain showers and sunshine, the two exchanged vows on the back terrace of Jackson Lake Lodge. The ceremony was followed by a cocktail hour, dinner and reception. Love and laughter filled the ballroom, as couple and guests danced the night away.

Photography by Carrie Patterson: www.carriepattersonphotography.com

  

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Wells on Wildflowers

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Nature greets the arrival of spring as enthusiastically as we do, and celebrates it with a festival of color.  Even Grand Teton’s sub-zero winters and blinding snowstorms eventually yield to the pink earthly stars of the Spring Beauty, and gigantic yellow flowering Arrowleaf Balsam Root.  Soon thereafter Lupine, Camas, Larkspur, Oregon Grape, and Yellow Violets paint the spectrum of a land rainbow that banishes the memory of winter’s monotone grays and whites.

 

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Armed with what seems to be pounds of wildflower field guides and plant books in our packs, my wife and I hike off to destinations like Taggart and Phelps Lake, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, Pilgrim Creek, Antelope Flats, Heron Pond and Swan Lake, eagerly awaiting colorful surprises along the route.  Never disappointed, referring to our guides along the way, spring is a wonderful time to visit the backcountry.

We appreciate wildflowers for their beauty and trumpeting the arrival of spring.  We may also consider them as chronicles of time and place.  They tell a fascinating story, acting as interpreters of the natural world they inhabit.  Grand Teton’s geologic past shaped a varied landscape, where a series of transformations culminated in various ecological systems that support the wildflowers we admire today.  Our population of flowers reveal ancient tales of the landscape dating back millions of years and provide us with lessons in geology, climate, wildlife biology, fire history, and an array of other scientific information. 

 

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As always, collecting specimens of animals, trees, minerals, or archeological artifacts are strictly prohibited in all National Parks and Monuments. Collecting wildflowers are equally protected.  So, study the plants where they grow, take home photographs and memories, but leave them to display their brief beauty for the enjoyment of those who will follow.

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Posted from Don’s Corner, Photographs by Don Wells

 

Do you know what these wildflowers are? Please leave us a comment and let us know! If your answers are correct you could be eligible to win a prize from Grand Teton Lodge Company!

 

We have been receiving your answers! Keep them coming, at the end of the week we will enter all the correct answers into a drawing. Thanks for your participation!