The beauty of the Tetons' jagged skyline piercing the sky above the flat expanse of Jackson Hole is an image known worldwide. As Historian William H. Goetzmann notes in Chapter 18, the Tetons ". . . are among the most familiar landmarks in the American West." Images of the Teton Range appear in everything from television advertising to Hollywood movies. The Tetons have become a romantic and idealized image of what all mountains should look like, mountains of the imagination. What can easily be overlooked in this stunning landscape is the human element. The wild and rugged view we see preserved today does not easily reveal that people have been living in the shadow of the Tetons for almost 11,000 years.
The Historic Resource Study of Grand Teton National Park, as this document is officially called, provides an understanding of that human experience. This human or "cultural" view fulfills part of the National Park Service (NPS) mission to protect and interpret all of its resources, including those created by man. The project began in the 1980s as part of an effort to gain a better understanding of Grand Teton's historic buildings and structures. Park Historian John Daugherty wrote the study, but the manuscript was left unpublished after John transferred to another NPS unit in 1991. In 1995, Grand Teton initiated a much larger survey and evaluation of historic resources, and the value of the Historic Resource Study and the need to share its wealth of information became even more apparent. In 1996, Grand Teton National Park's Cultural Resource Specialist Michael Johnson applied for and received a NPS grant to complete and publish the manuscript.
Grand Teton National Park is indebted to two individuals who made the completion of the study possible. John Daugherty devoted substantial time and effort to editing his manuscript. The second individual who deserves our thanks is NPS Historian Christine Whitacre who, at the request of the park, acted as editor and publishing project manager. Under Christine's direction, additional chapters on mountaineering, prehistoric life, and the artistic portrayal of the Tetons were contracted for and added to complement John's work.
Most importantly, this study helps us understand the significance of the park's cultural resources, and provides valuable data for cultural resource management and interpretive planning. The human record is extensive, from American Indian prehistoric life, to the early Euro-American explorers, and the more recent settlement period that left a legacy of over 260 historic buildings. Jackson Hole is a very special place. The sublime scenery, the "old west" flavor, and wildness that ancient Native Americans knew makes Grand Teton National Park one of America's crown jewels. I hope this presentation of the human story of this mountain valley enhances your perception and appreciation of "A Place Called Jackson Hole."
Last Updated: 24-Jul-2004