Jackson Hole - At the Base of
Jackson Hole is a valley in
Wyoming that today provides numerous attractions to millions of
visitors each year. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee ski areas, and nearby
Grand Teton and
Yellowstone National Parks are major tourism attractions year round.
Native American hunting parties
from the northern Rocky Mountains camped along the shore of Jackson Lake
around 12,000 years ago while following game. For thousands of years
Jackson Hole was used as a neutral crossroads for trade and travel
routes in the area. One route followed the Snake River to its source in
the Yellowstone area. Another major route traversed the Teton Pass at the southern end of the range, providing a shortcut to
the Pacific Northwest region.
Numerous archeological remains have been found that portray the long
history of those native peoples, including cook pots and obsidian tools.
pre-historic times, no one tribe claimed ownership to Jackson Hole, but
Crow, Gros Ventre,
Shoshone and other
Native Americans utilized the valley as a summer camp.
Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce
John Colter, a member
Lewis and Clark Expedition is the first white man known to
have visited the area now known as Jackson Hole as early as 1806.
In the spring of
David E. Jackson responded to an ad in the St. Louis Enquirer
100 enterprising young men to ascend the
Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, there to be employed as
hunters. As compensation to each man fit for such business, $200 per
annum to be given for his services.
Jackson soon took a job with
William Ashley's fur company. However, in 1826, he and two other fur
trappers, Jedediah Smith and William Sublette, bought out Ashley. By
1830, the trio had made a good profit and sold the company.
The valley was named
for Jackson, first called Jackson's Hole, in about 1829. The "hole” came from early trappers who
primarily entered the valley from the north and east descending along
relatively steep slopes, giving the feeling of entering a hole.
By 1845, the fur trade
declined and the valley was virtually left alone by white settlers
until geologist F.V. Hayden visited the area in 1860 as part of the
Raynolds Expedition. In the summer of 1871 he led the first
government-sponsored scientific survey of the Yellowstone area just to the north.
Though the Homestead Act
was passed in 1862, pioneers didn’t inhabit the valley until 1883 when
John Holland and John and Millie Carns became the first settlers. Living
along side the Indians who continued to utilize the valley as a summer
camp, pioneers continued to come including a sizable influx of Mormon
settlers in the late 19th century.
By the mid-1890s, several
villages had sprouted up by the names of Kelly, Wilson, Moose, Moran, and
Jackson. Officially laid out in 1897, Jackson soon sported a bank and a
number of stores around the town square, some of which continue to stand
today. Historic buildings at Menor’s Ferry in the town of Moose also
continue to stand.
Moulton Barn in front of the Grand Tetons,
Jon Sullivan, June 2004.
The barn is located on Mormon Row east of Moose,
This image available for photographic prints
The inhospitable climate and limited growing season soon caused many of
the homesteaders to sell out, and much of the land was consolidated into
large ranches. As the cattle industry thrived, the large herds of Elk
began to suffer as they competed with the cattle for food. In 1910, the federal
government bought the more than 24,000 acres just north of Jackson and
created the National Elk Refuge to preserve both the wildlife and the
ranching lifestyle of Jackson Hole.
Early in the 20th century, settlers also realized the potential in the
area for big game hunting, providing housing and services to a new league
of tourism, which soon replaced cattle ranching as Jackson Hole's economic
Yellowstone was designated as the nation’s first national park, Jackson Hole really began to attract visitors, further increasing its
tourism. Visitors once again climbed when the area surround the Grand
Tetons was designated as a national monument in 1929. After
years of debate as to whether the Tetons should be added to the
Yellowstone National Park, congress added further acreage and created
Grand Teton National Park in 1950.
The Grand Teton National
Park occupies the western half of valley along
with the mountains for which the park is named. Jackson Lake is in the
northern part of the valley and the town of Jackson, Wyoming is at the southern end. The average altitude of the valley is
over 6,500 feet.
The only incorporated
town in the valley is Jackson, sometimes also mistakenly called Jackson
Hole. Other communities in the valley include Wilson, Teton
Village, Moran Junction, Hoback, Moose, and Kelly.
Jackson Hole is one of the country's most popular destinations for
outdoorsmen and tourists alike. With a unique culture, blending its
western heritage with that of a destination resort, visitors from all over
the world are drawn to its incomparable natural beauty, wide variety of
outdoor activities, galleries, and festivals. Outdoor activities include
skiing, snowboarding, wildlife viewing, hiking, rock climbing, horseback
riding, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, and more.
of America, updated March, 2017.
The town of Jackson, Wyoming
today, July, 2008, Kathy Weiser.
Grand Tetons Barn historic photo
image available for photographic prints
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park
David E. Jackson
Wyoming (main page)
Images of Wyoming (our Wyoming
at sunrise, Jon Sullivan, June 2004
This image available for photographic prints
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