In 1973, the Cunningham Cabin area was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
From Ranching to Recreation
The Cunningham Cabin stands as one of the valley’s few remaining structures from the homesteading era when settlers filed nearly 400 claims in Jackson Hole. In the 1880s, John and Margaret Cunningham staked a claim for the Bar Flying U Ranch. Cunningham built his cabin in 1888 in the Appalachian style, commonly called “double-pen” or “dog-trot.” John lived in the cabin until 1895 when he finished his main residence, and it later became a smithy and barn.
Cunningham ran a profitable ranch until drought ruined his crops and cattle prices fell at the end of World War I. As an agricultural depression persisted through the 1920s, Cunningham and other ranchers recognized the valley’s potential as a “playground.” Cunningham teamed up with neighbor Josiah David “Si” Ferrin to write a petition signed by 97 valley ranchers. The petition proposed a buyout of ranches to create a national recreation area for public enjoyment. In 1928, Cunningham sold to the Snake River Land Company who later donated 35,000 acres for park expansion.
Gunfight at the Bar Flying U RanchTwo Montana wranglers approached Cunningham in the fall of 1892 to purchase hay. Cunningham allowed the strangers to winter on his ranch. Rumors spread that the men were horse thieves. Next spring, a man claiming to be a U.S. Marshal, with three deputies, rode into Jackson from Idaho. Joined by Jackson recruits, the marshal’s men surrounded the ranch at night. In the morning, the posse gunned down the alleged thieves. The men’s guilt, the allegations and the marshal’s identity were never confirmed.
How to get there: The Cunningham Cabin is located north on highway 191 near the eastern boundary of the park. Park in the large parking area near the highway or if room, use the smaller lot close to the site. An interpretive wayside and trail guide can be found here. Panoramic Teton Range views can be seen from this site. Please watch out for bison, they can be very dangerous. Do not approach any wild animal; stay 300 feet from large mammals.
Last updated: February 24, 2015