Historical Atlas of Jackson Hole

1862-05-20 20:37:30

Homestead Act

A system of public land management that allowed individuals traveling to the West to acquire land for free. There was a filing fee of $10-15 for each application. 160 acres was the maximum amount of land you could apply for under this act. Requirements: Live on land for at least 5 years, no absence being longer than 6 months. Cultivate a minimum of 10 acres. Build a structure larger than 12ftx14ft.

1877-03-03 20:37:30

Desert Land Act

Up to 320 acres of “desert” land. This act was intended to “reclaim, irrigate, and cultivate arid and semiarid public lands.” As the desert lands were not allowed to be cultivated, many valley residents and cattle ranches filed for second entries to gain additional acreage for grazing. There was no residency requirement and the land was purchased at $1.25/acre.

1878-06-03 20:37:30

Timber and Stone Act

Up to 160 acres of land unfit for cultivation but with possible logging and mining interests. Some homesteaders would file under this act in order to increase their potential return on land investment. This act was seen as controversial by those who opposed giving valuable forested lands to private ownership. The act was repealed in 1900.

1885-11-02 20:37:30

Cunningham Ranch: J.P. Cunningham Arrives in Jackson Hole

1885: John Pierce Cunningham arrives in Jackson Hole, hearing about the success of other trappers. He remains in the valley for three years before he marries his wife, Margaret, and the two settle on a piece of land south of Spread Creek. 1889: Cunningham builds a modest cabin that was later converted to use as a barn.

1887-07-26 20:37:30

Elk Post Office Opens

Elk Post Office opens on the Cunningham Ranch. It closes in 1968.

1889-10-31 17:46:58

Hatchet Ranch: Shive Arrives

1889: John “Jack” Shive is discharged from his post at Fort Yellowstone, travels south to Jackson Hole and claims a homestead on the Buffalo Fork by squatter’s rights. 1897: Jack meets and marries Lucy Wadam Nesbitt, and she moves to the Jackson Hole ranch.

1891-03-03 20:37:30

Forest Reserve Act

This remarkable piece of legislation allowed Presidents to set aside land as national forests with the power to regulate the resources and withdraw these lands from homesteading, as well. The consequences for northwest Wyoming were dramatic. (Wilderness Fever: A Family’s Adventures Homesteading In Early Jackson Hole, 1914-1925, by Linda Preston McKinstry with Harold Cole McKinstry. 223pp.)

1891-03-30 20:37:30

Yellowstone Park Timber Land Reserve Established

Yellowstone Park Timber Land Reserve or known today as Yellowstone National Forest was originally established on March 30, 1891.

1891-10-31 17:46:58

Signal Mountain Named

1891: Ray Hamilton doesn’t return from a hunting trip with John Sargent. He is later found drowned, with his foot still in the stirrup after falling off his horse into the Snake River. A fire is lit on a nearby butte as a signal to other search teams that Hamilton has been found. Signal Mountain receives its name.

1892-03-25 20:37:30

Marysvale Post Office Opens

Marysvale Post Office opens on Fred White homestead, the first post office in the valley. It was later moved to Maggie Simpson ranch in 1894.

1893-04-06 20:37:30

Cunninghan Ranch Incident

Mike Burnett and George Spencer, reported horse thieves are killed at the Cunningham cabin. The shooting would later become known only as the “incident at the Cunningham ranch.”

1894-05-09 20:37:30

Jackson Post Office Opens

Jackson Post Office opens on Maggie and John Simpson homestead. The town of Jackson receives its official name, previously known as Marysvale.

1894-07-17 20:37:30

Menor's Ferry Opens

1894: William “Bill” Menor becomes the first homesteader to settle on the west bank of the Snake River. He files for a patent and begins to cultivate his land. The true purpose for this location is to open a ferry which would become the only safe river crossing between Jackson and Moran. 1896: First recorded use of the ferry by Maggie McBride. She remembers Bill Menor being unwilling to negotiate the cost for crossing. Menor saw the ferry as his source of income, rather than relying on the uncertainty of dry farming his land.

1896-01-01 18:11:12

The Elk Horn Hotel Opens

1986: Charles and Maria Allen first settle on their homestead in Jackson Hole. They choose an area overlooking Oxbow Bend in today’s town of Moran, near the newly completed military road to Yellowstone National Park. 1897: the Allens open the Elk Horn Hotel, a popular roadhouse that would run for several years.

1897-01-01 17:46:58

Merymere: Mrs. Sargent Found Injured

1897: Yellowstone troopers stop by Merymere on their way into Moran. They usually stop in for food and to bring mail into town, it is a routine event. They find Sargent acting unusually cagey and decide to head into Moran. Once in town they mention the encounter to the locals. A small posse goes up to the ranch to find Mrs. Sargent in bed with a broken pelvis, and John Sargent missing. They attempt to get Mrs. Sargent into town to see the doctor, but she dies 45 miles into the 50 mile trip. Sargent disappears from the valley for a few years, leaving his five children behind.

1897-02-22 20:37:30

Teton Forest Reserve Established

The Teton Forest Reserve was established to manage the new growth lodgepole pine in Jackson Hole. The Reserve encompassed most of the northern portion of the valley, extending east from the Idaho border to the Gros Ventre River. The Teton Forest Reserve managed 892,440 acres, compared to 310,000 acres in current Grand Teton National Park.

1898-03-02 22:16:20

First Documented Ascent of the Grand Teton

1898: First documented summit of the Grand Teton with Franklin Spalding, William Owen, Jack Shive and Frank Peterson. The group finds the famous Owen-Spalding route. Debate continues today as to whether the Owen-Spalding group had the first or second ascent.

1899-01-01 17:46:58

Merymere: John Sargent Disappears

1899: Sargent reemerges in Jackson Hole and is pursued on foot by Yellowstone troops through the woods. He is spotted with his young daughter, who he abandons on a toboggan. The rest of his children are assumed to be in Maine with extended family members. He is not seen again in the valley until 1908.

1899-04-06 20:37:30

Grovont Post Office Opens

Grovont Post Office opens at James Budge ranch, and later was closed in 1950.

1900-01-01 17:46:58

Hatchet Ranch: Water Rights

1900: The Shives acquire the first water rights on the Buffalo Fork for their ranch.

1902-05-22 20:37:30

Yellowstone Forest Reserve (Yellowstone National Forest)

Enter story info here

1902-05-22 20:37:30

Moran Post Office Opens

Moran Post Office opens at the Charles and Maria Allen ranch.

1903-01-01 18:11:12

Teton Lodge: Established

1903: Benjamin Sheffield purchases the Lovell and Smith homesteads and begins construction on his Teton Lodge. 1906: Sheffied marries Margaret Rice, and the two manage the Lodge. 1907: Sheffield purchases the Allen property that includes the Elk Horn Hotel, the Moran post office and a small mercantile.

1906-01-01 20:37:30

Merymere: John Sargent Returns to Homestead

1906-1908: John Sargent appears back at Merymere with a new wife, Edith. They live a quiet, isolated life but are regularly seen on their homestead by neighbors and tourists traveling the military road to Yellowstone’s south entrance.

1906-02-07 20:36:24

Ben Sheffield Constructs Toll Bridge at Moran

Benjamin Sheffield's foresight to establish his Lodge at the base of Jackson Lake was rewarded when the Reclamation Service decided to build a dam on Jackson Lake in 1906. This meant that the spring runoff would cease to flood his property and he could construct more cabins. It also allowed Sheffield to construct a toll bridge over the now predictable water. This bridge was one of just three crossings over the dangerous, twisting river that bisected the valley. The others were located at Menor’s Ferry and at the Jackson-Wilson Bridge in Wilson.

1906-02-07 20:36:24

Jackson Lake Dam: Phase I

The first dam on Jackson Lake was built in 1906. The area around the outlet of Jackson Lake was not suitable for human habitation as high spring runoff from the mountains made much of the bottom lands too wet for building and susceptible to seasonal flooding. While the first dam helped somewhat, staving off the worst of the spring floods, it failed just four years later.

1907-01-01 00:00:00

Thomas Alma Moulton Homestead

1907: Thomas Alma “Alma” Moulton first travels to Jackson Hole intent on setting up a homestead claim. He starts work, but returns home to Idaho each winter to make money sheep herding. 1912: After constructing a cabin, fencing and cultivating land, Moulton brings his wife Lucile and infant son, Clark over Teton Pass to move permanently to Jackson Hole.

1907-01-01 17:46:58

Elk Horn Hotel: Sold to Sheffield

1907: The Allens sell their hotel and homestead to Benjamin Sheffield, and retain a small 3-acre lot that today still contains the town’s original cemetery. They moved to Kelly and later Idaho for several years, eventually returning back to their 3 acre lot. Here they built another roadhouse, as the traffic from Yellowstone was now constant. They set up a gas station and small lunch counter that expanded to small cabins for overnight guests. The Allens original intention was to return to Jackson Hole to retire, but now they found themselves once again running a bustling roadhouse. They decided to lease the property and move on to actual retirement. The lease ran until 1972.

1907-03-04 20:37:30

Yellowstone National Forest Established

Enter story info here

1907-06-06 18:11:12

Thomas Perry Homestead

1907: Thomas Perry arrived in the valley to file on a claim with his neighbors from Idaho, Thomas Alma and John Moulton, and Thomas Murphy. The men file on adjacent parcels and return home for the winter. 1908: The men return to the valley and begin construction on their homesteads, beginning the work to improve the land. Perry, being a carpenter, is the most skilled at house construction.

1907-10-31 17:46:58

John Moulton Homestead

1907: John first arrives in Jackson Hole with his brother, Thomas Alma. Both brothers settle on adjacent parcels and help each other with the necessary work to prove up on their land.

1908-03-01 00:00:00

JY Dude Ranch

Louis Joy and Maxwell Struthers Burt partner to start the JY Dude Ranch in 1908. This is the first dude ranch to open in Jackson Hole.

1908-03-01 00:00:00

Thomas Murphy Homestead

1908: Thomas Murphy first enters Jackson Hole with neighbors Thomas Alma and John Moulton from Idaho. The three men file for adjacent claims along a small Mormon community that would become known as Mormon Row.

1908-07-01 20:37:30

Teton National Forest Expands

Teddy Roosevelt abolishes Yellowstone National Forest and expands Teton National Forest. He opens lands previously closed to homesteading.

1908-10-31 17:46:58

Hunter Hereford Ranch: Williams Homestead

1908: James Williams files for a 160-acre homestead claim on land along Aspen Ridge. He planned to cultivate 105 acres and use the rest for pasture and a house site. 1908-1931: Williams continues to homestead successfully and purchases an adjoining property. Williams grew oats and alfalfa, acquired water rights to the J.S. Domestic Ditch and to the North and South Ditch Creek canals. He used W Lazy J as his brand and kept several cattle.

1909-11-02 20:37:30

Cunningham Ranch: Land Swap

1909: Cunningham sells his ranch to the Nelsons, and adds 160 additional acres under the Desert Land Act of 1877. In return for this ranch, J.P. Nelson gives Cunningham the Jackson Hotel. The two families swap lives, trading ranching for town living. 1914-15: Cunningham purchases his ranch back from Nelson, also acquiring the nearby Uhl Ranch land and brand, the Bar Flying U. The Nelsons purchase a homestead just to the south of the Cunningham ranch.

1910-01-01 00:00:00

Teton Lodge Company: Disaster

1910: A disastrous fire followed by a flood nearly levels the Teton Lodge. The Sheffields decide to rebuild and create a successful Lodge capable of housing up to 300 guests.

1910-06-06 18:11:12

Luther Taylor Homestead: John Erwin

1910: John Erwin establishes his homestead, builds cabins and clears the land. 1920: John Erwin dies.

1911-01-01 00:00:00

Bar BC Dude Ranch: Opens

1911: Struthers Burt and Dr. Horace Carncross meet at the JY Dude Ranch and form a partnership, leaving the JY to start their own dude ranch. The men spend the summer surveying the valley to find the perfect location for a ranch. The two men file on adjacent homestead claims and begin to enlist the help of friends for supplies, labor and money. They intend to open the ranch the next summer. 1912: Remarkably, the Bar BC (for Burt and Carncross) opens for dudes on schedule.

1911-01-01 18:11:12

Jackson Lake Dam: Phase II

Construction on the new dam began in 1911, and continued until 1916. By this time the town had a stable economy due the amount of visitors traveling to and from Yellowstone National Park. The 1916 dam still exists today, having been reinforced in 1986-89 in order to meet new requirements for earthquakes.

1911-02-22 20:37:30

Menor's Ferry: Neighbors Arrive

1911: Menor’s solitary residence on the west bank is ended by the homestead of Jimmy Manges near Timbered Island. Others soon start to fill in the area, including William Grant, Harry Clissold, Bryant Mears, the Bar BC Ranch, Geraldine Lucas, and Maud Noble.

1911-08-11 17:46:58

The Elbo Ranch: Manges Homestead

1911: James H. “Jimmy” Manges files a claim for 160 acres under the Homestead Act of 1906. 1911: Manges built a small cabin that still stands today. This cabin is known for being the first two-story log structure in the valley.

1912-01-01 00:00:00

John Moulton Homestead: Dairy Business

1920-29: John and his wife Bartha (sister to Lucile Moulton, wife of T.A. Moulton, John's brother) go into the dairy business, supplying the valley dude ranches with fresh dairy products. Their customers reach as far north as Yellowstone National Park. To supplement the dairy, Bartha kept 60 chickens to lay fresh eggs. The eggs are highly valued, and used as money.

1912-01-01 00:00:00

Andy Chambers Homestead

1912: Andrew Harrison Chambers arrives in Jackson Hole and purchases a relinquished claim on Mormon Row. He begins construction on a log cabin and starts to clear and cultivate the land.

1912-05-20 20:37:30

Sky Ranch: Purchase from White Grass

1952: On a visit to the White Grass, Balderston is approached by ranch owner Frank Galey to purchase a small parcel of land in the ranch’s northwestern corner. Construction begins that fall on Sky Ranch.

1913-01-01 00:00:00

Thomas Alma Moulton Homestead: Barn Phase I

1913: The first portion of what would become “the most photographed barn in America” is constructed. Just a small box with a flat roof, it was only intended to be winter lodging for the Moulton’s two work horses.

1913-01-01 00:00:00

Lucas-Fabian Homestead: Established

1913: Geraldine Lucas settles on a homestead in Jackson Hole. She has retired from a career as a music teacher in New York City. She moves to her ranch alone, although her siblings also live in the valley.

1913-01-01 17:46:58

White Grass Ranch

1913: Harold Hammond files for a 160-acre homestead on the west side of the Snake River, north of the JY Ranch. He builds the first structure on his property, a 28’x48’ log house.

1913-01-01 17:46:58

Hatchet Ranch: Expansion

1913: Mary receives the patent on her homestead and the Shives gain an additional 160 acres of land. 1915: Lucy’s daughter Carrie Nesbitt, having married William Dunn, files for an adjacent 160 acre parcel. 1920: The Dunn patent is issued and the Shives now own close to 800 acres. A ranch hand, Ben Kilky is hired to file on an additional homestead, adding another 160 acres to the ranch. This same year the Shives sell the ranch to David E. Skinner of the nearby Elk Ranch.

1913-02-12 14:42:06

Merymere: The Sargents Depart

1913: Edith Sargent is brought to San Diego, California. It is unknown if she lives alone or with family, or why she leaves John in Jackson Hole. Months later she is brought to a sanitarium. Around this time, John Sargent commits suicide in his cabin. He was buried in a shallow grave directly outside his cabin. Sargent’s grave is the only remaining piece of his homestead. The grave is located just north of the AMK Ranch.

Historical Atlas of Jackson Hole

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