Cunningham Cabin and Mormon Row - Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming
(Post and photos by David Miller, Rob Gilchrist, Ernie Blackenship, and Brian Childress)
The Cunningham Cabin is a double-pen log cabin in Grand Teton National Park. The cabin was built as a homestead in Jackson Hole and represents an adaptation of an Appalachian building form to the West. The cabin was built just south of Spread Creek by John Pierce Cunningham, who arrived in Jackson Hole in 1885 and subsisted as a trapper until he established the Bar Flying U Ranch in 1888. The Cunninghams left the valley for Idaho in 1928, when land was being acquired for the future Grand Teton National Park.
The Cunningham Cabin stands as one of the valley’s few remaining structures from the homesteading era when settlers filed nearly 400 claims in Jackson Hole. In the 1880s, John and Margaret Cunningham staked a claim for the Bar Flying U Ranch. Cunningham built his cabin in 1888 in the Appalachian style, commonly called “double-pen” or “dog-trot.” John lived in the cabin until 1895 when he finished his main residence, and it later became a smithy and barn.
Cunningham ran a profitable ranch until drought ruined his crops and cattle prices fell at the end of World War I. As an agricultural depression persisted through the 1920s, Cunningham and other ranchers recognized the valley’s potential as a “playground.” Cunningham teamed up with neighbor Josiah David “Si” Ferrin to write a petition signed by 97 valley ranchers. The petition proposed a buyout of ranches to create a national recreation area for public enjoyment. In 1928, Cunningham sold to the Snake River Land Company who later donated 35,000 acres for park expansion.
Gunfight at the Bar Flying U RanchTwo Montana wranglers approached Cunningham in the fall of 1892 to purchase hay. Cunningham allowed the strangers to winter on his ranch. Rumors spread that the men were horse thieves. Next spring, a man claiming to be a U.S. Marshal, with three deputies, rode into Jackson from Idaho. Joined by Jackson recruits, the marshal’s men surrounded the ranch at night. In the morning, the posse gunned down the alleged thieves. The men’s guilt, the allegations and the marshal’s identity were never confirmed.
How to get there: The Cunningham Cabin is located north on highway 191 near the eastern boundary of the park. Panoramic Teton Range views can be seen from this site.
The district consists of a line of homestead complexes along the Jackson-Moran Road near the southeast corner of Grand Teton National Park, in the valley called Jackson Hole. The rural historic landscape's period of significance includes the construction of the Andy Chambers, T.A. Moulton and John Moulton farms from 1908 to the 1950s. Six building clusters and a separate ruin illustrate Mormon settlement in the area and comprise such features as drainage systems, barns, fields and corrals. Apart from John and T.A. Moulton, other settlers in the area were Joseph Eggleston, Albert Gunther, Henry May, Thomas Murphy and George Riniker. The Mormon Row district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1997.
Coversations/Things we learned:
These two locations are incredible examples of pioneers who explored and settled the United States. It’s pretty obvious why the families loved this location because of the view of the Teton Mountain Range. Visiting these locations and reading the attached literature brings together the bravery, dedication, and generosity not often seen anymore in the world. If you are visiting the Grand Tetons, this is a must-see stop.
Contact information and directions:
How to get there: Drive north from Jackson on highway 191 past Moose Junction and turn right onto Antelope Flats Road. Follow the road about 1 ½ miles until you see a north-south running dirt road marked by a distinctive pink stucco house on the left with a small dirt parking area. A trail brochure and interpretive sign can be found at the parking lot.
Gallery of photos: