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035 Custom map of Jackson, Wyoming and Vicinity

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The history behind the name of Jackson hole Wyoming makes more sense when you hear it in context. For starters, Indians inhabited the area for centuries before settlers arrived. Most of the time, they lived around the valley because it was simply too cold in the winter months to remain. However, as settlers began to explore the area, they found means to keep themselves warm via the fur trading industry.

Most of the fur traders were mountain men who spoke with a different vernacular then other settlers. For instance, they referred to valleys or low-lying areas as “holes”. Attached to the mountain men persona was the tradition of naming certain areas after the trapper who worked the area most.

So, as fate would have it, Davy Jackson and several other hunters signed on to explore, and exploit, the territory around the valley for a very large fur trading company. They had responded to an advertisement posted in the St. Louis Enquirer. Hence, from 1826 - 1830, they made the yet unnamed, lush Wyoming valley their base of operations, and ended up making very good profits. Since Davey Jackson was the most active fur trader who frequented the area most, the valley began to be known as “Jackson Hole”.

In time, it would become a crossroads of sorts. Six other fur trapping trails would eventually meet converge in Jackson hole. As such, it would become a popular gathering place for the annual mountain men “rendezvous” festivals. Very similar to our arts and crafts festivals today, participants would gather to eat, drink, be merry and compete in varying games of skill.

The year 1854 would mark the end of the fur trade, yet the moniker Jackson Hole would be firmly cemented from this point on. Throughout the late 1800s, the valley, becoming increasingly known for its natural beauty and abundant wild life, became our first national park. From there, Jackson Hole would become a place filled with thousands of acres of sprawling ranches, designed to produce and maintain livestock, as well as keep the massive elk herds from eating everything in sight.

Today, it has become a very popular tourist travel destination, and playground, satisfying every outdoor adventure activity from rock climbing, to snowboarding, to water skiing. People come all year round to participate in any one of a number of these activities, enjoying the spectacular scenery of Jackson Hole, and the surrounding Grand Teton National Park.


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