Suffice it to say, my chiropractor is still working out the kinks in my back following a an authentic Western experience. It doesn't get more real than Bar T 5 and the pioneer behind the dude ranch responsible for all the fun.
Elijah Nicholas Wilson was 8 when he crossed the plains with his parents, devoting months on foot to covering the 1400 miles between Illinois and Utah.
At 12, looking for adventure, the spunky kid ran away from home with an "Indian friend." What was the boy thinking! Wilson spent two years with the Shoshone Indians (he was adopted by the mother of Washakie, Chief of the Shoshone) before moving on to be a rider for the short-lived Pony Express. He was a natural for his next gig, Army Scout for the U.S. government.
When the fur trade that brought Davey to the area ended in 1845 (ironically, changing fashions in Europe contributed to the decline of beaver pelts when silk, rather than fur, became the fashion statement in men's top hats), Jackson Hole returned to a desolate, albeit magnificent low-lying valley visited by wandering tribes and the occasional expedition.
By the time millionaire John D. Rockefeller, Jr. became part of the picture in 1920 efforts to preserve the region as a national park had already begun. By 1929, Grand Teton National Park was established via executive order of President Calvin Coolidge, although much of the valley of Jackson Hole was still privately owned.
Fearing commercial exploitation in the valley, Rockefeller quietly and systematically began purchasing land in Jackson Hole through a private enterprise called the Snake River Land Company; land he later intended to turn over to the National Park Service.
In 1930, locals were none too happy to learn of Rockefeller's intentions and his vast holdings in Jackson Hole. By 1943, with Rockefeller becoming increasingly concerned his land might never become part of Grand Teton National Park, he contacted the Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes, and threatened to sell the land to another party. The plot thickens! Ickes recommended President Franklin D. Roosevelt designate Rockefeller's land a national monument using the Antiquities Act, which permitted Presidents to set aside land for protection without the approval of Congress. Members of Congress repeatedly attempted to have the new monument abolished. Ah, yes, some things never change when it comes to political interests.
Today, less than 3% of land in Teton County is privately owned; 97% of the 2,697,000 acres in Teton County are federally or state owned/managed. So much for retirement property in this magnificent mountain range.
It was all quintessential Western: the classic covered wagon ride classic, the basic campfire grub, the interactive entertainment, and the magnificent memories.