Stephen Leek’s efforts to save the starving elk of Jackson Hole came at a time when survival of the species was very much in doubt. The founding of the National Elk Refuge in 1912 was one result—a huge achievement. But feeding wildlife in herds leads to disease, we now know. And Leek himself was a decidedly complicated man.
The National Park Service’s Mission 66, initiated in 1956, modernized facilities, built new ones, built roads and added dozens more parks and historic sites. In Wyoming, architects designed buildings meant to enhance visitors’ experiences while protecting the wonders they came to see. The results recast Americans’ relationships with natural beauty.
In 1898, Wyoming State Auditor Billy Owen and friends climbed the Grand Teton and claimed they were first to do so. Counterclaims quickly surfaced, dating back to 1872. In 1929, Owen persuaded the Wyoming Legislature to name him the first and had a plaque made to make it official. But the controversy continues.
Trapper, ferryman, hunting guide and Mexican War veteran Beaver Dick Leigh lived an active and colorful life on both sides of the Tetons in the mid and late 19th century. Leigh, Jenny and Beaver Dick—now String—lakes in Jackson Hole are named for him and for his first wife, an Eastern Shoshone from Washakie’s band.
Starting a newspaper is tough, even without rivals. Against enormous odds, the Jackson Hole News managed to not only thrive while competing for three decades with the Jackson Hole Guide, it ended up buying the established newspaper and merging into the Jackson Hole News&Guide, which survives today.
Largely forgotten today is the stiff local resistance that arose in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to the creation and later the expansion of a national park there. The story covers 31 years of controversy, and includes a Rockefeller, a movie actor and a group of armed ranchers trailing cattle illegally across a national monument, and some of the most beautiful scenery in North America.
Teton County, Wyo., is well-known for its spectacular mountain scenery and for its opportunities to climb, hike, bike, fish, hunt and ski. In the early days, though, travel was much more difficult and few people lived in the area. Grand Teton National Park and part of Yellowstone, the first national park, are located within the boundaries of Teton County. The parks draw millions of visitors each year.