In 1927, a series of events occurredsome distinct and others relatedthat set a new pattern for the future of Jackson Hole. John D. Rockefeller Jr., financed the Snake River Land Company to buy private lands for the purpose of returning them to the public domain. President Calvin Coolidge issued a series of executive orders that withdrew thousands of acres from homestead entry. The Bureau of Public Roads completed a new highway from Jackson Lake to Menor's Ferry, where they constructed a steel truss bridge. And water breached the natural dam on the Gros Ventre River, causing the worst flood in the valley's recorded history.
One summer, I stole a few moments to watch a rancher bale hay. Traditionally, Jackson Hole ranchers stored hay in huge stacks that resembled oversized loaves of bread. This day, a tractor pulled a baling machine over rows of mown hay, producing neat, rectangular blocks at predictable intervals. As the fragrance of fresh-cut grass drifted in a slight breeze, it struck me that the baling machine was much like 1927, when events reshaped the course of history in this valley. Whether in a stack or baled, hay remains hay, but it is very different in appearance. So too was a new pattern created for Jackson Hole, one that would ironically become apparent only with the passing of time.
Last Updated: 24-Jul-2004