Best of the Tetons

Kelly Area Map

Kelly and Antelope Flats Map from 1939

Historic Road Map Showing Many of the Old Dirt Roads

The early residents of Jackson Hole built many roads connecting all areas of the valley. It’s actually quite a stretch to even call some of them roads by today’s standards. Many of them were used with wagons and early vehicles. I’ve driven over most of them—at least where I can legally drive, and I’ve walked many of the others.

Web WY Maps

I used to buy lots of old Jackson Hole road maps off eBay. At the time, I was trying to find out when the road from Moose Junction to Moran Junction was opened. Turns out it was in 1958 or possibly late in 1957. State maps in 1957 lacked the road, but 1958 maps showed it. I found a Grand Teton Park Map for 1958 which also showed “The Jackson Hole Highway”. Even after I found the answer to my original question, I realized there was a wealth of information to be found within the various maps.

Kelly Map 1939

Cartographers were often sloppy in the ’30s and ’40s, but I guess it could be expected considering a lot of the roads were actually just narrow two track roads hacked through the sagebrush. The map I found with the most information about the Kelly, Grovont (Mormon Row), and Antelope Flat(s) area was printed in 1939 by Shell Oil. I scanned a small section of it for this post. Click on the image to see it quite a bit bigger. There are a few errors on this map, too. Notice it shows Ditch Creek flowing south and into the Gros Ventre River. Unless the settlers drastically changed the creek’s direction, it actually flows into the Snake River just north of Dornan’s. The highway is shown intersecting what we know as Antelope Flats Road, but in reality, it would have had to run a couple of miles north before going East towards Mormon Row. Still, it shows the roads better than any other map I found.

Kelly Map with Notes

Click this image to see it quite a bit larger!

This image has a lot of notes I added in an overlay. This list might help. I believe most of the information below is accurate, but will be happy to change it at any time if I find better data.

  • The Gros Ventre Road did not appear on quite a few of my earlier maps. Instead, people heading to Kelly and Mormon Row from Jackson went East and took roads going through what is now the National Elk Refuge. One of the two roads is identified as Long Hollow on at least one map.
  • On some of the same maps lacking the Gros Ventre Road, maps indicated people went on north, past the current JH Airport and took “Meadow Road” along the south edge of Blacktail Butte. Meadow Road is still in use on the West side of the highway, but the old road connecting the highway and Kelly is closed and abandoned. I’ve walked it before.
  • The map shows some of Antelope Flats Road, but not the extended section that would have passed near the Pfeiffer Cabins. Maybe that was added later? Notice the map refers to the area North of Antelope Flats Road as simply Antelope Flat. And, of course, the correct name for the referenced mammal is Pronghorn.  That’s a bit like calling a Bison a “Buffalo”. We’ve all grown up calling them Buffalo or Antelope. Right? How about “Bison Bill”? No…
  • I mentioned Ditch Creek not flowing to the Gros Ventre River. I included the path in blue showing it going south of Antelope Flats Road and North of Blacktail Butte.
  • Quite a few maps show dirt roads heading NE towards what is now the Teton Science School. This one lacks any reference to it. I added it in dark green. The lime green portion is still open to travel, but dead-ends not far from Mormon Row. From what I understand, the Grovont school was located where that old road intersected Mormon Row. Some of my photographer friends call this old road “The Power Line Road”, since a power line runs the entire length.  Either way, its still a fairly rough old road. I think is more correctly called “Ditch Creek Road”.
  • Just North of the town of Kelly, the road heads off to the East into the Gros Ventre river drainage and to Slide Lake and Upper Slide Lake and beyond. That road is still part of the Gros Ventre Road.
  • The road going North out of Kelly is a shared section of the Gros Ventre Road for the first couple of miles. I flagged down a Ranger one time and asked him what they call the rest of the road going North and connecting near Lost Creek Ranch. At one time it was called Block S Ranch. The “S” is for Mr. Schwabacher.  His ranch lies just outside the current Park Boundary. I believe some people also call it the Forest Access Road. It connects people with the road heading up Shadow Mountain and into the Bridger Teton National Forest. If the Rangers call it the East Boundary Road, that’s what I call it!
  • Mormon Row went through the town of Grovont, then continued onwards across Antelope Flat to Lost Creek Ranch or Block S Ranch. After the 1958 highway was completed, the road going North was eventually closed. Currently, people can walk north on the road to a point even with the North side of the Murphy Barn. The Park Service dumps dead animals north of there.
  • There are a couple of additional diagonal roads running through the sage north of the Gros Ventre Road. I’ve seen a few remnant cut-offs on the road, but when I do a Google Maps inspection, I can’t actually see either of the diagonals clearly.
  • IrrigationDitch1964
  • An Irrigation ditch links the Kelly Warm Springs with farm lands all the way to the Mormon Row / Antelope Flats intersection and beyond. The historic images supplied to me by Sue Ernisse and the Pounian Family shows an irrigation “bridge” over Ditch Creek. Some of the early photos also show a lot more water flowing through the ditch passing under Antelope Flats Road than typically flows out of the Kelly Warm Springs, so it makes me think they augmented the ditch with Ditch Creek water during summer high water. I’ve walked the entire distance of Ditch Creek from the East Boundary Road to Mormon Row once or twice and I’ve actually seen some concrete footings. I never really understood what they were for while I was there originally. You can see the ditch in a Google Maps viewing of the area, along with lots of remnant irrigation ditches.
  • Warm Springs Road runs parallel and just south of the Kelly Warm Springs outlet for a couple of miles. The ditch then cuts diagonally to the Northwest and Warm Springs Road continues onward to Mormon Row. We can still drive the entire length through most of the summer. It is also fairly rough, but passenger vehicles are seen crossing it fairly often. I like going over it only in my old truck. I heard this name somewhere along the way, but I don’t see it officially designated anywhere on the maps I own.

Additional History Posts Found on Best of the Tetons:

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