History

People often ask whether they are in Jackson Hole or Jackson.  The answer is, both.  Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley, which is approximately 60 miles long.  Jackson refers to the Town of Jackson, which sits on the southern end of the valley. 

Jackson Hole was originally populated by Native American tribes including the Shoshoni, Crow, Blackfeet, Bannock, and Gros Ventre.  John Colter entered Jackson Hole during the winter of 1807/1808 during the return journey of the Lewis & Clark expedition.  The area became a prime area for trappers and many famous mountain men traveled through the area in the early 1800's.  These mountain men are responsible for many of the names in the valley including Bridger, Jedediah Smith, and Sublette.  David Jackson gave his name to the valley after a winter spent on the shores of Jackson Lake. 

As part of the Hayden Expedition of 1871 and 1872, William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of the Teton Mountains and Yellowstone.  His photographs, along with the sketches by Tom Moran, were important evidence to convince Congress to protect Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone National Park became the first National Park in 1872.  Grand Teton National Park was created in 1920 and greatly expanded in 1950 through the generous efforts of John D. Rockefeller, who purchased and then donated over 30,000 acres.

The Town of Jackson was named in 1894.  Some of the early buildings remain and can be found throughout the area of the Town Square.  The Town of Jackson elected the first all-woman city council in 1920.

The first ski town was built at Teton Pass in 1937 and Snow King Resort was established in 1930.  Teton County now boasts three excellent ski areas including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort located on the West slope of the Tetons, and Snow King Resort.

The Town of Jackson is the county seat of Teton County and the only incorporated municipality in the region.  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.   

In 2009, the Town of Jackson was designated as a Preserve America Community. This designation recognizes that, as a community, we protect and celebrate our heritage, use historic assets for economic development and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources.

For more information about the history of Jackson, please visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society.