Take A Walking Tour Through Menor’s Ferry Historic District

A visit to Menor’s Ferry Historic District opens a window on Jackson Hole life as it existed in the late 1880’s.  Site of a once vibrant commercial enterprise, this piece of touchable history witnessed the spark of conservation which led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park and protection of Jackson Hole.  Some visitors leave touched with the inspiration that the struggle for conservation continues even today.

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William D. Menor arrived in the valley known as Jackson Hole in 1894.  Settling on the bank of the Snake River, he found farming to be a difficult way to make a living.  He put to work to design and construct a ferry which became a vital river crossing for early settlers to the valley.  A simple platform was set on two pontoons.  A cable system was stretched across the river that kept the craft from floating down river yet let it move sideways, powered by the current, to the opposite river bank.  Early fees charged were 25¢ for a rider and horse and 50¢ for a wagon and team of horses.  Menor built a bridge for winter crossings and dismantling it each spring.

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Menor sold out to Maude Noble in 1918.  She doubled the fares, hoping to earn a living from the growing number of tourists traveling to the valley.  Nobel charged $1 for local autos and $2 for out of state vehicles.  She moved her three room cabin to the property shortly after purchasing the business and took up permanent residence.  She continued to ferry an increasing number of visitors and even opened a store called the Ferry Ranch Store.

As Jackson Hole continued to develop, concerns turned to conversations until one evening in 1923, a group of local residents met with Horace Albright, then superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.  The meeting place was Maude Noble’s cabin and the conversation centered around how to protect the “Old West” character of the valley.   Albright was an ardent conservationist who had witnessed the Owens River completely diverted for supply Los Angeles with water.  He understood the issues.

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In 1926, Superintendent Albright met John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and aroused his interest in saving the valley.  Rockefeller described the Tetons as “quite the grandest and most spectacular mountains I have ever seen.”  The seed was planted for a lengthy struggle.

Mr. Rockefeller’s Snake River Land Company began to acquire property in the valley.  Meanwhile, Congress established Grand Teton National Park in 1929 – just the Teton Range and some of the glacial lakes at the foot of the mountains.  In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Jackson Hole National Monument consisting of federal lands in the valley.  In 1949, Rockefeller donated over 32,000 acres and combined with the National Monument, Congress established the present Park in 1950.

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Bill Menor’s three room cabin stands as a living display of his early commercial enterprise.  A replica of his ferry is on display and occasionally operates, ferrying visitors across the Snake River.  The Transportation Shed houses a collection of early wagons and coaches representing frontier transportation.  The Chapel of the Transfiguration sits on land donated by Maude Noble and is still operated by St. Johns Episcopal Church in Jackson.  And finally, Maude Noble’s Cabin still stands as an iconic reminder of the decade’s long struggle for conservation of Jackson Hole and the Teton Range.  On display are wonderful photographs of early life in Jackson Hole and correspondences between Mr. Rockefeller and Congress.

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Be sure to take time during your visit to tour Menor’s Ferry Historic Center, one of the Park’s best pieces of touchable history.  Perhaps you will touched with a thought that the struggle for conservation continues today.  Through understanding comes appreciation and through appreciation comes protection.

Take advantage of Grand Teton Lodge Company’s Give and Getaway Program on September 22-23, 2009 and enjoy a private interpretive tour of the Menor’s Ferry Historic District along with the opportunity to participate in the removal of a mile of fence line to improve wildlife migration in Grand Teton National Park.  For more information on this program please call 800-628-9988.  Rates start at $120 per room at Jackson Lake Lodge.

From Don’s Corner
All images were taken by Don Wells

…Where the Pronghorn Play!

A common confusion for the guests of Grand Teton National Park is calling a pronghorn an “antelope.” 

 

Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park
Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park

 The pronghorn has had to live with this mistake for quite awhile, so I thought I’d help clear this matter up!

Fun Fact One:  Family

Antelope are a member of the Bovidae family, which also includes cows, bison and sheep.

Pronghorn are the last surviving membe rof the Antilocapridae family.

Fun Fact Two:  Territory

Antelope are found in Africa, Asia and occasionally the middle east.  Their habitat range from grasslands to marshes.

Pronghorn are found in western North America, from Canada to northern Mexico.

Fun Fact Three:  Horns or Antlers

Antelope have a traditional horn which consists of a bony core with a Keratin coating.  (That’s the same stuff our nails are made of!)  Their horns do not branch in any form and they have one set for life.

Pronghorn have keratin growing on a bony core that is pronged in the male and is also shed annually. 

A true classification for ther term “horns” in animals is they are always unbranched and never shed (like the Antelope).  They are also covered with skin like the horns of a giraffe!

Fun Fact Four:  Speed vs. Height

Antelope come in such a variety that some like the Gazelles are very fast, while others like the Nilgai are very slow.  They are also, primarily, decent to great jumpers.

Pronghorn are the second fastest land mammal, second only to the Cheetah!  They have a very high endurance for racing but are very poor jumpers!

Fun Fact Five:  Young

Antelope typically have just one baby at a time.

Pronghorn are known to most commonly have twins!
Bonus Fun Fact: Pronghorns outnumber people in the state of Wyoming!

From Melissa’s Corner!

Colter’s Floatin’ the Snake River

Hi everyone!  It’s me Colter Moose and today I’m floatin’ the Snake River with the Grand Teton Lodge Company boatmen.  These guys get to cruise the river all day long as their job…and I thought I had it good!

Anyway, I’ve heard all about the dinner they put together on the banks of the Snake River, so I thought I’d try the “Supper Float Trip”.  You see our meal site is located just below the Snake River Overlook ~ the place Ansel Adams made famous for his photos of Grand Teton National Park.  It’s a pretty scenic place to have dinner….

Moosin Around 039

 

Speaking of dinner, the chef (shown above) cooks steaks and trout on an open grill.  I’m told there is something special about meals cooked outdoors.  Since I don’t really eat the same types of food as our guests do…I’ll have to take their word for it…but let me know what you think if you join us on this activity!

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During dinner I made a few friends.  This is Katie sitting at one of the picnic benches before dinner began. 

After dinner, we put on life jackets, listened to the boatmen talk about the trip and how best to prepare for our adventure…here’s a photo of Katie and Kelly as we boarded the rafts!

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 The big boats hold up to 20 people.  This is a photo of the rest of the people on our trip who were just about to depart for their 10 mile scenic journey down the Snake River.

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 The guides make each trip unique as they talk about the area, tell folk tales, provide historical information and help guests search for wildlife along the way!

08Jackson Lake Lodge

This here is Mike, a boatman who helps guide river trips ~ he also grew up here in Grand Teton National Park…so he has lots of stories to tell!

(I’m not that great at taking photos, so I asked a friend of mine who is a photographer,Dan Sullivan,if I could use a few of his.)

This photo was taken by a real photographer...Dan Sullivan

The scenery is so unique…And it just keeps getting better and better along the way!

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 On our trip we were lucky to see lots of wildlife.  I’m new to this park so I haven’t made many friends.  Everyone thought it was just because I was along that we saw so many animals along the river, but our guide assured them…this happens often ~ especially on the early morning and evening trips.  Above, can you see the bald eagle in the tree?  This was one of my photos…sorry it’s not clearer, but I hope you can make him out – he’s in the center of the photo.

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 …and here, now this is a challenge…but that rock-like ball sitting just in the water on the right side…that’s a beaver.  There were 5 of them on this trip that we came across – it was pretty cool to see them swimming in and out of their homes along the river banks.

We were also able to find a “real” moose on the river banks, had a heron fly right along side the raft, and encountered many ducks in the river as well

Once we ended the trip, everyone else got out and I was the last one in the boat.  Sort of looks like I’m one the one in charge here doesn’t it??  Hmmm….maybe I should entertain a career change. 

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A Walking History of Colter Bay Village

 
A Colter Bay Cabin
A Colter Bay Cabin

An historic walk through Colter Bay Village with Grand Teton Lodge Company Historian Mary McKinney is a fascinating walk back through time.  Listen how the valley began to develop and dude ranches dotted the landscape.  Hear how John D. Rockefeller Jr’s vision and generosity assisted in preserving this wonderful landscape.  Compare the differences of how these early dude cabins were constructed and with what unusual materials.  Laugh at how our housekeeping cabins were once “Chic Sales”.      

Colter Bay Village actually represents an eclectic collection of cabins from various sites around Jackson Hole. The cabins at Colter Bay serve as a window into the past, giving guests the chance to experience a bit of history during their stay. Though the cabins have been modified to accommodate plumbing and electrical needs, they have been restored and maintained to reflect as close a representation of their original construction as is possible. Many of the cabins were constructed in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but some date back to the late 1800’s. 

As tourism in Jackson Hole began to flourish in the early 1900’s, accommodations began to sprout up all over the valley. The result of this influx of tourists was the beginning of dude ranches in Jackson Hole.   A typical dude ranch was composed of a central building surrounded by many smaller guest cabins.   The largest of these resorts was the Teton Lodges at Moran, located at the site of the old town of Moran below Jackson Lake Dam. 

As one of the driving forces behind conserving Jackson Hole, John D. Rockefeller Jr. had bought thousands of acres of property with the intent of donating it as part of a national park. When Grand Teton National Park was expanded in 1950 with Rockefeller’s donation of 34,000 acres, it became apparent that guest accommodations in the park were inadequate. With funding from Rockefeller, the park service began to develop new visitor facilities and remove older resorts as they wanted to restore much of the park to its natural state. After the completion of the new Jackson Lake Lodge in 1955, the Colter Bay visitor site went into development. Cabins were transplanted to Colter Bay from the Teton Lodges at Moran, the old Jackson Lake Lodge resort, and the Square G Ranch (located near Jenny Lake) among others. In 1957 the cabins at Colter Bay Village were opened to the public. Over the years many of the other dude ranches and resorts closed or were donated to the park, and Colter Bay Village grew with the addition of the cabins from these various sites. 

Craftmanship of a Unique Cabin
Craftmanship of a Unique Cabin

Today there is no trace to be found of many resort sites that now makeup Colter Bay Village. All the cabins from the old Jackson Lake Lodge that were not transplanted were destroyed. After picking up much of the town of Moran and transporting it to Colter Bay, the remaining structures were demolished in 1957. Only the post office still survives, transported to present-day Moran near the park’s east entrance.

Mary McKinney
Mary McKinney

Ms. McKinney’s interpretive historic walk is complementary and is scheduled each Tuesday and Friday afternoon at 5pm.  Meet Mary for a wonderfully delightful afternoon at the Colter Bay Village Cabins Guest Lounge.
 

 

From Don’s Corner -Adapted from “A Brief History of Colter Bay Village” by Mary McKinney (GTLC Historian)

Introducing Our New Friend…

We have a new friend at Grand Teton Lodge Company. A fury moose has joined us in the office and he’s quite the explorer. The stuffed guy enjoys hiking, horseback riding, float trips, biking, rock climbing… there really isn’t an activity that he won’t try. He also likes to take time out to relax by the Jackson Lake Lodge swimming pool or grab a drink up at the Blue Heron. He’s a bit of a romantic, taking strolls along the shoreline of Elk Island and catching sunset at Lunch Tree Hill. He’s also been known to take a lady or two out to a special dinner at Jenny Lake Lodge.

 What's My Name?

This moose is quite the environmentally-friendly fellow. He is part of the Fuzz that Wuzz family. This means he is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Approximately two million plastic bottles are used in the U.S. every ten minutes and 51 billion go into landfills annually. It takes 700 years before plastic bottles start to decompose and less than 30% of plastic bottles in the U.S. are actually recycled. Each Fuzz that Wuzz member keeps over ten bottles out of landfills.

 

Our fluffy friend will be out and about in Grand Teton National Park. Keep you eyes open, if you spot him in our photos and tell us where he is, you could when a prize from Grand Teton Lodge Company.

The moose is missing just one thing, a name! We are asking for your help in selecting one. Please leave a comment with your suggestion and we will review potential candidates. The contender with the name we select will win a $50 gift certificate.  We look forward to hearing your ideas by Monday July 27th!

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