Historic Old Photos and Comments.
On numerous occasions, I’ve walked around the old John Moulton homestead and tried to visualize what it might have looked like in its heyday. Most of the buildings, including the Peach House, still stand, but many of the fences and corrals have fallen down or have been removed. In all ranches I’ve seen, fences, corrals and gates had a purpose. They weren’t there by accident! I’ve purchased shelves of books about Jackson Hole and looked through countless others hoping to find historic photos of the area, but none really showed the photos I wanted to see. The Park Service shows “some” information about the once thriving community along Mormon Row, but I’ve yet to see definitive shots of the actual ranches. Finally, I asked the right question to the right person! Sue Ernisse spent the summers of 1963, 1964, and 1965 here when she was very young, along with her brother, sister, and parents. Her father was a Professor of Art and an artist/photographer living in Illinois. They’d drive out in their pale blue Ford station wagon and spend the summer, living in the log cabin just to the west of the Peach House. These amazing photos were captured on slides by her Father with his Nikon camera. Sue had many of the slides scanned. She recently shared them with me—and ultimately with the world via the Internet.
John Moulton Homestead—1964: This is the most complete shot of the homestead out of the group. Most of us have taken shots from this very spot! It’s funny…I was expecting to see more trees! At the time these photos were taken, almost all land around Mormon Row was pasture land for either planted crops or for livestock grazing. Sagebrush is now taking back much of the fields. Fences, telephone lines, and power lines are essentially gone now. Bison and other ungulates roam the eastern half of the Park again. With almost no maintenance on the part of the National Park, many of the buildings are rapidly deteriorating. Last summer, a 100th year celebration and fundraiser was held at the Thomas A. Moulton barn with family, town and park dignitaries acknowledging the area’s rich heritage. At least to my eyes, it appears any fundraising money received was spent at that end of the road.
Prior to 1958, tourists and residents drove North out of the Town of Jackson to Moose Junction where they could take the road into the Park. Alternatively, they could veer to the east just after crossing the Gros Ventre River. The old road passed through the town of Grovant (Mormon Row), then North to Lost Creek Ranch (Block S Ranch) and on to the Highway on the North side of the Buffalo Fork River. In 1958, the connector from Moose Junction to Moran Junction was completed and the Northern portion of the East side road was not needed. Click the map image to see it much larger.
Note: The area we call Mormon Row was originally called the town of Grovant, as seen on the map.
If you are interested in this kind of history, check out an earlier post: Early Roads in Grand Teton National Park:
Here’s the Parks official thumbnail recap of the history of the park: The Creation of Grand Teton National Park
Al Pounian, Sue’s Father, is seen here sketching from inside one of the horse corrals west of the main the barn. Al is the person with the vision to take the photos of the beautiful ranch and buildings along with shots of his family and kids at play. Sue says her Mother, Lois, took the photos of her Father.
Sue: “Dad was a Professor of Art, so he had the summers off. Mom was a stay at home mom. As soon as Dad, Barb and Jim were out of school, we loaded our Ford station wagon and headed for Jackson Hole for three months. We were raised in the very affluent town of Lake Forest, IL—thirty miles north of Chicago and on the shores of Lake Michigan. Materialism rules in Lake Forest. We lived on the “other side of the tracks”, however. We had running water and toilets back home.
My dad always had his trusty Nikon camera along. Each summer, while in Jackson Hole, we took numerous trips around the region, including Promontory Point, UT, Yellowstone, the Craters of the Moon, Glacier NP, and of course to all of the features in Grand Teton National Park. In other years, we spent summers in Ireland and England, along with a few years in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.”
John and Bartha Moulton–1963:
Sue: “Reed, John and Bartha’s son, was the one who really ran the place when we were there. He and his wife Shirley lived on the far north end of the property. Mike is telling me the Park Service identifies that barn at the Murphy Barn, but I don’t know where that came from. When we were there, Reed and Shirley Moulton lived in it. The barn and home are still there. They had five children. I believe the oldest was Charlie, then Bob, Jim, Debbie and Maryann. Reed and Maryann were killed in a car accident on Teton Pass on Thanksgiving Day. I seem to recall it was in 1971, but it’s been a long time.”
Barb: “Bartha could be pretty intimidating until you got to know her, and discovered that she had a great sense of humor. She was always doing some kind of hand work, like braiding rags for rugs, or crocheting. John was a gentleman of the old school, and a genuinely nice man. This is a terrific shot of the two of them. Looking at them, I can almost smell the wonderful rolls Bartha baked in her wood burning stove. I still can’t figure out exactly how she knew what to do to maintain the right temperature for baking, but the results were out of this world!”
The Log Cabin: The Pounians spent their summers in this building. This cabin still stands just to the West of the Moulton’s peach colored Stucco house.
Sue: “My Mom’s life long friend was married to a GTNP summer park ranger. That ranger was our family’s connection to the rental cabin on Mormon Row—owned by John and Bartha Moulton. We always referred to their house at the “pink” house. Bartha Moulton had a garden just outside our door. I was always stealing peas and vegetables from it. We had electricity, but I don’t recall any running water. We had to go to the outhouse. At night, my sister had to go with me.”
Barb: “The cabin where we stayed was built for John and Bartha’s son Reed and his wife Shirley when they were first married and came to live at the ranch. As their children came along, they built the house down Mormon Row to the north of the pink house. Bartha also had a couple of rooms upstairs in the pink house that she rented out occasionally to folks who wanted a place to stay for a night or two.”
The page linked below, indicates the barn was built by Thomas Murphy, but Barb’s comments might suggest Reed Moulton actually built the house. (All other images on this page were taken by Al Pounian, but he didn’t include any of the barn and houses referenced above.) The fence on the left is part of the remaining corrals at the John Moulton homestead.
On the far right of my image above, you might be able to see a post with a metal arm bolted to it. I always wondered what it was for, but I now see it was used for a mailbox as seen in Al’s photo.
Murphy Barn Notes: “This property was homesteaded in 1908 by Thomas Murphy who sold it in the 1920s to Joe Heninger. Reed Moulton, who grew up the adjacent [to the property and] took over the property about 1945.”
Wash House and Shower—1963: Some of this little building is still standing, but most of the walls have deteriorated. Lois Pounian and Sue are seen here.
Sue: “The wash house was shared by our family and the Moultons. There was a crank wringer outside the small house and a shower inside. For my baths, my Mother had to heat water on the stove. We took our baths in one of the galvanized tubs seen on the side of the wash house.”
Outbuildings: I am not sure exactly what these buildings were used for? They are still at the site.
Sue: “I seem to recall the building was used as a bunkhouse for a couple of the ranch hands.”
Twin Driveways and Lawn Mower: The old footbridge has deteriorated and there is now a row of Aspen trees running alongside the irrigation ditch.
The Original Corrals Along Mormon Row: Many of these corrals and fences were still standing when we moved here in 1986. Quite a few commercials, such as Dannon Yogurt, were filmed with people sitting on, or in front of the fences.
The Back Side of the Barn: 1965
Sue: “We loved playing in the barn with all of it’s wonderful smells. Everything was a completely new experience for all of us. It was wonderful!! Giving us the Tetons and the world of the Moultons was the best thing our parents could have done for us”.
Ladies Outhouse: 1963
Sue: “We entered a completely new world on the Moulton Place. We had cold chamber pots and outhouses. Baths for me was in an aluminum tub in front of the wood burning stove. But, we loved every minute! That’s my sister, Barb.”
Grazing Cattle Along the Irrigation Ditch—1965 : The Pounians were sporting a new Ford station wagon in 1965.
Peach House Along Mormon Row in the Mid-60s: Other than the majestic Teton peaks behind it, this rural farm scene could probably be found just about anywhere in the country. Check out: Pretty In Peach: The Historic Stucco House on Mormon Row
Horse Corrals – 1964: This fence line ran parallel with the road.
Horses in the Corrals 1963:
Barb: “The Moultons only had one horse when we were there, and his name was Tony. At the time, he was about 24 years old, but could still be persuaded to jump irrigation ditches!”Sue: “The others horses belonged to the cowboys. They brought in their own horses for the cattle drives.”
Moving the Cattle 1963: This shot was taken at the intersection of Antelope Flats Road and the old Mormon Row road, looking South. The T.A. Moulton Barn and other outbuildings are on the far right. While it is not apparent in this photo, Antelope Flats road was hard surfaced in 1963, based on a couple of other photos in the group.
Small Cabin-1965: I don’t believe this cabin still exists. The door is well off to the left of center, while the other building next to the wash house is more centered. This one appears to be closer to the outhouse. It can be seen in the photo below, too.
Barb: “The small cabin was the first dwelling built on the property by John and Bartha Moulton. It was their “honeymoon” cabin. They later upgraded to the pink house.”
Kids and Cows – 1964: The sign on the far right says “Dead End Road”. With the new (1958) Highway connector from Moose Junction to Moran Junction, the old Mormon Row road was no longer a thoroughfare for travelers on the East side of the Snake River.
Sue: “That’s my sister on the left, Debbie Moulton (daughter of Shirley and Reed Moulton), and my brother on the right. Every once in a while, a truck would drive up to fill a 5 gallon container of milk for the Teton Valley Ranch, located in Kelly. This photo reminds me the Moultons did all they could to generate cash to help run the farm, including renting the cabin we stayed in each summer.”
Sue and her mother in 1963: Taken inside the cabin.
Sue: “My job was to shuck the corn for the Sunday dinner. My sister’s job was to feed the chickens. When my brother turned nine, he got to drive the tractor in the fields. I don’t think he thought of it as job, however.”
Barb Pounian Feeding the Chickens:
Sue: “We all helped some around the farm when were there in the summer, but I don’t think were required to help. After all, we were renters, there for a summer vacation. The Moultons continued with their chores as usual. Sunday was a “day of rest”, but of course, they still had to feed the livestock and milk the cows.”
Inside the Corrals—Looking East: Shadow Mountain is in the distance.
Looking West towards Blacktail Butte and the south end of the Teton Range. This image shows horse corrals and distant planted fields. Cowbirds are in flight.
North Side of Sue’s Cabin 1964: Looking south towards the rest of the Mormon Row Community and the “other” Moulton Barn.
Kids in the Irrigation Ditch 1963:
Sue: “It’s hard to imagine what it took to build all of the irrigation ditches necessary to water the entire area. And, they would have had to do it with minimal equipment…just hard, backbreaking work.”
Beaver Slide: These were common in the early days. (There are still a few existing in South Park, but I haven’t seen one in GTNP). They were used to stack loose hay into tall piles. I’ve seen early images of the rake dragging the hay to the top with horse drawn power and later with trucks and tractors.
Automation: By 1965, the Moultons had mechanical horse power as seen above.
Sue: “That’s Reed Moulton on the truck and my brother, Jim, on the small tractor.”
North End of Mormon Row, Looking South 1964: Nowadays, we can’t walk any farther North than the last barn, so it’d be difficult to legally recreate this photo.
Sue: “That’s my mother and myself. We did a lot of walking. My family was in Jackson Hole on vacation. I was very young so I probably didn’t really notice how hard life was for the Moultons back then.”
Implements of an Earlier Day: By the mid-’60s, the heavy work would have been accomplished with tractors and trucks, but when the Mormon settlers entered the valley in the late 1800s, they cleared fields and planted crops with horse drawn tools like the ones in this photo.
Jackson Hole Rodeo–1964: The chutes and announcer’s booth look much the same now as they did then. With no lights, rodeos were held in the afternoon. Sue says they went there often on Saturdays.
T.A. Moulton Farm
Thomas A. Moulton Barn in 1964: In 2013, the Park Service held a 100 year celebration for this barn, making it roughly 51 years old at the time Al Pounian took this photo. The corrals, gates, fences and outbuildings were apparently still being used and maintained. This barn now has it’s own official web site: T.A. Moulton Barn
Distant Shot of the T.A. Moulton Barn, fences, and outbuildings 1963: The Moulton’s house still stands south of the barn. During summer months, it serves as a Bed and Breakfast. At the corner of the property, a historical sign explains a bit of the history of the town of Grovant. I need to look again at the sign, but I believe it says the area was originally homesteaded in either 1894 or 1896. This barn would have been built roughly 18 years after the first settlers homesteaded the area. These cottonwood trees had plenty of time to grow and mature, as seen here.
Additional Area Buildings and Cabins:
Pfeiffer Homestead 1964: The cabins burned down in 1994 when a fast moving grass fire swept the area. At least one of the Mormon Row barns can be seen in the distance.
East Boundary Road and Cabins: These cabins no longer exist.
East Boundary Cabin: Same spot in 1964 showing the gate and main cabin.
Hilltop Cabin: This cabin is gone now, too. It appears to be on the top of the hill just east of the Shane Cabin.
Crystal Springs Ranch 1962: Look familiar? If you went there today, you’d be driving into the parking area in front of Teton Village Ski Resort. Until recently, there was a building called “Crystal Springs” in the resort. At the time, the ranch was owned by Ken Clatterbaugh.
Barb: “Crystal Springs Ranch was a sleep away camp, as they call them now. As I recall, they had two or three sessions each summer that lasted for about a month each. One of the big attractions for kids was that each camper had her own horse for the time she was in camp. We rode every day and, weather permitting, took many trail rides up into the Park. I was 12 the first summer I was there, and I’d never stayed away from my parents for so long before. Homesickness melted away in no time, once I got to know my horse, Lady Luck. I went back the second summer we were in the Tetons, and that year we took a trail ride all the way from Crystal Springs Ranch, across Jackson Hole, and up the Gros Ventre, where we camped out for a few days. We stopped at the pink house to water the horses.”
The Pounians: My local contact for this page is Sue Ernisse. She’s the young one on the right. Her siblings, Jim and Barb are having a “bowl” of cereal on a camping trip. Lois Pounian is overseeing breakfast and Al is taking the photo. Jim and Barb were also on board with us on this page, and I hope to be able to add comments from both soon. Sue now lives in Jackson Hole after some time in Alaska. I see her while out taking photos on a regular basis. At some point, I mentioned I had been looking for photos of Mormon Row while all the gates and fences were still being used. She said, “I have them!”
These photos are amazing! Again, thanks to Sue Ernisse and the Pounian Fanily. They give me a much needed snapshot of what the area looked like in the mid ’60s. Maybe someday, I will find another group taken 15-20 years earlier. How about 40 years earlier, or even when they were actually building the barns?
I asked Sue whether she thought the people out on the flats thought they lived in a “special place” and whether they appreciated it’s beauty. She was so young when she spent her summers here. She asked her brother. His reply: “No! Every day was hard and brutal. They were just trying to make a living.”
Be sure to check out this accompanying Feature Post: The “Missing” GTNP Farming and Ranching Photos: The post contains a few more of Al Pounian’s photos and my comments regarding what looks like 30-50 years of almost no photos of the farming areas of the valley.
You Can Help!
David Moulton suggests we may be able to help save and restore these structures (See his comments below). You can go to the page and make requests and comments to the board of directors. You can also volunteer to help restore them under the guidance of the Foundation and staff. Of course, monetary donations would help the cause, too.
Photos on this Page: Please note the tag line on the bottom of each photo. The family generously allowed me to post the images on Best of the Tetons, but they are not granting any additional use of any of the images without their permission or knowledge. Please feel free to create links to this page, but do not “take” the images. If you’d like to “share this page”, use any of the convenient Social Media icons below.
August 2014 Addition: