Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Peak of Perfection

Magnet #178:  Grand Teton Sign

Material:  Wood, Laminated Paper

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day in 1929 when Grand Teton National Park was established.  These days, the Grand Teton has become so popular that you'd never guess that the National Park Service had a really tough time adding them.  Initially, some were interested in adding it to nearby Yellowstone, but soon, the leaders of the National Park Service were determined to have it stand alone as a park.  But the locals had other ideas.  They didn't want this preservation getting in the way of their ranching and grazing businesses, and nearly ran representatives from the organization out of town.  The Park Service needed help for their cause and they got it from one of the richest men on the planet - John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  When he and his wife visited the area, they realized the urgency with which it needed to be saved, and Rockefeller took it up as a personal cause.  Soon, working with the leaders of the organization, he was buying up the land piece by piece, and thanks to the creation of a business known as the Snake River Land Company, nobody realized he was.  For more than 15 years, he gathered 35,000 acres despite resistance from the locals, only to have the Federal Government stall when it came time for it to take the area.  Although Congress was able to make other parts of the land into the Grand Teton National Park, for over a decade, the Park Service would not take Rockefeller's land.  It was only through a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that he got his point across - either they would take the land or he'd sell or give it to some other party.  Roosevelt used his power to create the Jackson Hole National Monument, but even that didn't truly include the Snake River Land Company land.  It would take another six years for it to be added and, soon after, the monument combined with Grand Teton National Park to set its present day boundaries.  Before then, ranchers and other residents were opposed to the monument, and they broke laws to let their anger be known and lashed out at anyone who was its favor.  But when World War II had come to an end and tourists started bringing more money into the area, finally residents began to realize the benefits of preserving the land for future generations.  And the Grand Teton has gone on to become a beloved addition to the National Park System.

Many tourists are attracted to the park nowadays because it's adjacent to Yellowstone, one of the most visited of all of the national parks.  And the contribution of the Rockefellers hasn't been forgotten - the scenic highway that connects the two parks is named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and the family recently donated nearby lands they had kept as the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve.  As for the Teton Range that's at the center of attention in the park, it's actually named for the French word for breasts.  A trapper from that country who must have been pretty lonely actually gave the name to another mountain range, and it was later mistakenly given to this one.  Many consider them to be the most majestic peaks in all of North America, and it's tough not to include them in nearly every photo that's taken there.  Most of the trees there are evergreens, so the park is stunning, even in winter.  And there is an impressive collection of wildlife that makes the park its home - bears, moose, elk, swans, coyotes, and wolves can all be seen there. I've never been there, but I hope I have the chance to someday.  A great deal of struggle has gone into ensuring that the Grand Teton will be here for generations, and we can all show our appreciation by visiting this incredible landmark.


  1. We visited the Tetons a couple of years ago. They are really amazing! I would love to stay in the Lodge there someday. As you say it would be beautiful in the winter or summer.

  2. I didn't even notice anything about the Lodge when I was typing this up, but it sounds like a fantastic place to stay. Thanks for mentioning it and I hope you're able to get a room there someday.