How Much Do You Really Know About Jackson Hole?

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Test Your Knowledge of Jackson Hole

[This is the first of a two-part series designed to test your knowledge of your home state.]

It’s February in Wyoming, which means you probably need to stay hunkered down for the next couple of months. If you’ve already worked every crossword puzzle in the house, take a stab at our Jackson Hole trivia test. How much do you really know about your hometown?

#1. Jackson Hole is named after:

  • A. Andrew Jackson, U.S. president from 1829-1837
  • B. “Stonewall” Jackson, U.S. Civil War general
  • C. Cheyenne Jackson, early explorer who also founded the city of Cheyenne
  • D. David Jackson, a Wyoming mountain man
  • E. Michael Jackson

If you guessed D, you’re right. (If you chose E, you get docked a point; there may be no hope for you.)

David Jackson lent his name to the valley when he supposedly spent the winter of 1829 on the shores of what is now Jackson Lake. At that time, mountain men would refer to a high valley surrounded by mountains as a “hole.” Jackson’s business partner, William Sublette was the first to call the mountain valley along the Snake River “Jackson ‘s Hole.”

By the way, Wyoming mountain men were responsible for many–if not most–of the names in the valley.

#2. In order to be eligible for Wyoming land under the Homestead Act, which of the following criteria had to be met:

  • A. Must be at least 21, the head of a household, and never fought against the U.S.
  • B. Must be at least 21, male, and never fought against the U.S.
  • C. Must be at least 21, white, and never fought against the U.S.
  • D. All of the above
  • E. None of the above

Perhaps surprisingly (for the time), the answer is A. So long as potential landowners were at least 21 years old, the head of a household, and had never taken up arms against the United States, they qualified.

The Homestead Act opened opportunities for land ownership to both men and women from a range of cultures, including European immigrants, African Americans, Mexican Americans, and Mormons.

#3. In 1920, the town of Jackson was the first in the country to do this:

  • A. Elect an African-American as mayor
  • B. Begin municipal trash collection
  • C. Allow women the right to vote
  • D. Publicly fund its fire department
  • E. Elect an all-female city government

If you picked E, you really know your Jackson Hole history!

Apparently, in the town’s early days, Jackson struggled to maintain basic infrastructure. That’s when five prominent townswomen decided to take matters into their own hands.

They ran on a platform promising to collect overdue taxes so that they could clean up the town square, control free-roaming livestock and dogs, increase access to the cemetery and improve road conditions.

They won all five seats, as well as the mayoral position. Then they appointed other women to the positions of town clerk, town treasurer, health officer, and town marshal.

(Editor’s Note: Oskaloosa, Kansas, may actually have beaten Jackson to the punch, according to the Jackson Hole Historical Society. Oskaloosa elected a woman mayor and four town councilwomen in 1888. Nevertheless, we think Jackson deserves the credit for naming the most women to government positions.)

#4. John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, traveled to the Jackson Hole area to meet with the Crow tribe. What was his objective?

  • A. To attempt a peace treaty
  • B. To barter for much-needed supplies
  • C. To persuade them to trap for beaver pelts
  • D. To visit his Crow wife and children
  • E. To hunt for buffalo with them

Around 1807, John Colter became the first Euro-American to view the Teton Mountain Range and to enter the region which would later become Yellowstone National Park.

He traveled into Crow territory to persuade them to trap for valuable beaver pelts, which were used for fashionable hats at that time. (So the answer is C.)

About a year later, Colter was captured by Blackfoot Indians, stripped naked, and forced to run for his life. The following video clip describes what became known as “Colter’s Run” in harrowing detail.

Colter spent months alone in the wilderness; he’s generally considered to be the original “mountain man.”

#5. Another Jackson, William Henry Jackson, was a famous painter and photographer of the American West. What was his Wyoming claim to fame?

  • A. He was David Jackson’s great grandson
  • B. He built the first ski resort in Jackson Hole
  • C. His photographs led to Yellowstone being named as the world’s first national park
  • D. He lived with the Shoshone for two years
  • E. Both C and D

As part of the 1870 Hayden Expedition, Jackson was the first person to photograph much of the Wyoming Territory. They explored the Yellowstone region in July 1871, and then returned east to lobby for passage of the Yellowstone National Park Act of 1872. (As you may have guessed, the answer is C.)

Jackson’s photos contributed to the growing body of evidence that the area was, indeed, a natural wonder. And the rest, as they say, is history.

By the way, while William Henry was not related to David Jackson, he WAS the great-great nephew of Samuel Wilson, the person on whom America’s national symbol — Uncle Sam — is based.

Next Month’s Quiz: How much do you know about Wyoming’s most distinguished landmark?


Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum

Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce

Jackson Hole News & Guide

Legends of America


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