History of Jackson Hole

It all started around 10 million years ago when the jagged peaks of the Teton Range sprouted along the Teton fault line. As westward expansion grew in the early 1800s, explorers made their way to the region. Two hundred years later, the Jackson Hole area is known for its outstanding skiing and snowboarding as well as its proximity to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Throughout the seasons, Jackson Hole welcomes more than three million visitors per year. Still, the pristine locale has kept its Western, small-town character.

Pre-1800s
While no written accounts exist, the region’s Native American tribes survived off wild game like bison and elk.

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Early 1800s
After leaving the Lewis and Clark Expedition, John Colter comes to Jackson Hole to pursue beaver trapping. Colter, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, William Sublette and David E. Jackson gather in the summers to trade pelts for sustenance and winter supplies. Many towns and counties would later be named after these men.

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Late 1800s
After going quiet for two decades, the Homestead Act encourages pioneers to acquire new land in the 1860s. Farmers and hunters flock to the region. By 1894, the Town of Jackson is incorporated.

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Early 1900s
Travelers see Jackson Hole as a fishing, hiking, horseback-riding and hunting destination. In the 1920s, locals begin hiking to the top of Snow King Mountain in their winter boredom and skiing down on wooden planks. Mike O’Neil builds jumps on Snow King, setting off an era of ski jumping and racing on the mountain.

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1929
Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks and the Bridger-Teton National Forest are established. This limits the amount and location of land that can be used for ranching. Leaving so much open space encourages tourism in the region.

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1936
The first horse and hiking trail to the top of Snow King opens, courtesy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program for the unemployed following the Great Depression. The trail has switchbacks all the way up the 1,571-foot mountain.

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1937
The Jackson Hole Ski Club is established. The first race includes jumping through a fire-ringed hoop at Snow King Mountain.

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1939
Snow King Mountain Resort is the first in Wyoming with lift tickets costing $2.95. A rope tow, made by Neil Rafferty, acts as the sole lift for the lower half of the mountain and is powered by a Ford tractor engine.

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1946
Neil Rafferty and the Jackson Hole Winter Sports Association install Snow King’s first top-to-bottom chairlift for $5,000.

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1947
Neil Rafferty installs a towrope on Telemark Bowl at the top of Teton Pass that remains open for nearly 20 years in the early season before Snow King Mountain Resort opens for the winter season. The tow operates on the spinning tires of a Jeep.

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1966
The Aerial Tram is installed at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort just one year after the resort offers skiing on Rendezvous Mountain.

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1969
On the western slope of the Tetons, Grand Targhee Resort opens in Alta, WY.

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1971
Bill Briggs is the first person to ski down the Grand Teton, a major event leading to an influx of big-mountain skiing and exploration in the United States.

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1989
The New York Philharmonic holds the first summer residency in its 147-year history in Jackson Hole during the first two weeks of July. America's oldest orchestra performs four concerts as a benefit for Jackson Hole's 39-year-old Grand Teton Music Festival.

In June, President George H.W. Bush chooses to deliver his first major speech on the importance of the environment and clean air in Grand Teton National Park.

In September, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze hold a historic meeting on the shores of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Baker chooses Jackson Hole to showcase the spectacular scenery and preserved heritage of America's West.

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1992
Paul McCollister sells Jackson Hole Ski Corp. to the Kemmerer family. The family has ties to Wyoming dating back over 100 years.

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Winter 1999-2000
The backcountry gate system is in action at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, making Jackson Hole a preferred destination for those seeking added adventure. Gated access opens over 3,000 acres of untouched backcountry to recreationists.

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2008
After the famed Jackson Hole Aerial Tram stopped operating in 2006 after 40 years of service, a bigger and faster tram is installed.

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2011
The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act (S. 382/H.R. 765) passes for the nation’s 121 ski areas operating on public lands. This leads to more summer activities such as zip lines, mountain biking, ropes courses, disc golf courses and more.

Teton County is awarded a grant from the Wyoming Business Council to fund trail development in Jackson Hole.