I wondered what type of ranches developed in Wyoming even before the Grand Teton National Park was established in the early 1900s. Upon research, it is interesting how people traveled from the eastern side of the U.S. to explore and settle in the western U.S.
The Homestead Act of 1862 established by President Abraham Lincoln was apparently a key piece of legislation that would entice easterners to move west.
The Homestead act created a public land management system that allowed individuals traveling to the west to acquire land for free. Sign me up, right? However, the land no doubt was taken years ago.
A homesteader was an individual 21 years of age or older, the head of a household and someone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government. When the act was signed, the U.S. had just finished its first year following the end of the Civil War.
Homesteaders were individuals who used legal means to acquire virtually free ownership of their land. https://jacksonholehistory.org/homesteading-in-jackson-hole/
It appears Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was a central location that supported ranchers throughout the Teton Range, including the establishment of “dude ranches.” For instance, experienced dudes, Struthers Burt and Dr. Horace Carncross opened Jackson Hole’s second dude ranch in 1912, the Bar BC Ranch. Burt described dude ranching as cattle ranching modified to care for “dudes”—visitors willing to pay handsomely for a quaint cowboy experience.
During its peak years, as many as 50 dudes could stay at a monthly rate of $300 each. These rustic destinations copied the layout of working cattle ranches. Only six dudes stayed the first summer, but the Bar BC soon became Jackson Hole’s most famous dude ranch. More information and images are also located at https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/historyculture/bcran.htm and https://jacksonholehistory.org/sky-ranch/.
Additional images of the Teton history may be viewed at https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/gallery.htm?pg=1952309&id=FCF8CFA1-155D-451F-67A5268A72280213.
Mormons Build Community
In addition to those traveling from the east to establish land ownership, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, sent parties from the Salt Lake Valley to establish new communities and support their expanding population.
Mormon homesteaders, who settled east of Blacktail Butte near the turn of the 19-century, clustered their farms to share labor and community, a stark contrast with the isolation typical of many western homesteads. These settlers first arrived in the 1890s from Idaho establishing a community (named Grovont by the U.S. Post Office), and known today as “Mormon Row.” https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/historyculture/mormon.htm
The area surrounding Jackson Hole still reminds travelers of the western life and the open terrain of the Teton Range. When we visited the town of Jackson, it had the feel of a tourist attraction with many shops and restaurants. It is a nice place to shop and explore though, and it still has a lot of history to examine.
Blessings along the Way!