It is perhaps one of Jackson Hole's most photographed scenes: A weathered barn in a green meadow rises up against the Tetons.
"They say it has angles that correspond
with the mountains," Clark Moulton says of the barn his father
started building in 1913.
For 81 years, Clark has
lived in sight of the Tetons on land his father homesteaded. The
Moultons were among a dozen Mormon families who filed claims near
Blacktail Butte. The families built their houses along a three-mile
lane that became known as Mormon Row.
his wife, Veda, 80, still live on the only privately held acre left
on Mormon Row. The rest of the homesteaded land, including the
barn, belongs to the National Park Service.
their house, Clark and Veda see a steady stream of artists and
photographers trying to capture the picturesque scene. Curious
strangers wander by to inquire about the
The history of the barn was spread through
the family by word of mouth, until Candy Vyvey Moulton, a relative
by marriage, wrote about it in Legacy of the Tetons. Candy calls
the barn "a poor man's legacy" that went
To the homesteaders, the Teton peaks
were just "a snow-covered pile of rock," Clark Moulton says. When
the Park Service took over, the image of the mountains changed.
"They were a beautiful snow-covered pile of gold."
Although preserved in a book and in pictures,
the barn itself has been in jeopardy. "It's just like an old man,"
says Clark. "He starts to get weak in the knees. That's the way
these old buildings are. They can't last forever."
The barn could be restored, but the Park Service
has in the past stuck to a plan to remove every building from
Mormon Row, says Michael Johnson, a cultural resources specialist
with the Park Service. "The basis for the creation of the Grand
Teton National Park was to return land to a natural state."
But regulations regarding historic preservation
within park lands were amended in 1993, giving historic buildings
"There's a growing sense that
historical buildings should be preserved for interpreting and
telling the history of the area," Johnson
Clark says that the barn is full of
history and represents a legacy to Mormon homesteaders who followed
the American dream.
"They were always looking for
something better; that's why they left Missouri," he says. "When
they came here, the horse that pulled the wagon was their implement
and the cow that was tied on behind gave the milk, and the chickens
in the crate laid the eggs. Those animals were pretty darned
important and that barn was shelter for them."
The original structure was rectangular; it took
another 20 years and another generation to add a hayloft, pitched
roof, a lean-to for horses and a hog barn.
a structure pieced together by a homesteading family according to
present need and the condition of the pocketbook," writes Candy
Moulton in her book.
As patriarch of the
Moultons, Clark is leading efforts to restore the barn. At
Johnson's suggestion, he wrote to Park Superintendent Jack Neckels
to ask for permission to work on the structure. The Moulton family
offered volunteer labor and materials.
Neckels granted conditional approval to save the barn. In a letter
to Moulton, Neckels says, "We think its continued presence adds
beauty and human scale to an awesome
Now the National Park Service has
approved plans to restore the barn, but before work can proceed the
old relic needs to be designated as a historic
Sheila Bricher-Wade, of the state
Historic Preservation Office, says she will help speed the process.
"Of all the historic preservation projects, this is the one that
not too many people would argue with," she
In anticipation of approval, the Park
Service organized a cleanup day Aug. 13, and volunteers removed cow
manure and fallen roof material.
requires a work plan and the understanding that the barn and all
materials remain park property.
friends plan to gather on Labor Day for a work party. "It's kind of
a family thing to restore it," Moulton says. "It's going to be a
rootin', tootin" day."
While the Moultons worry
about financing the project, they are all anxious to get to work.
By restoring the barn, Clark Moulton hopes to retain a legacy of
what life was like on Mormon Row.
"In another 50
years these meadows will be taken over by sagebrush and the
cottonwoods will fall over dead from no water," Clark says. "When
the three canals were active, we irrigated. We raised hay. There
were haystacks everywhere, cattle everywhere, kids coming to school
every day, people coming to church on Sunday
"That was the scene in the "20s and
"30s. We were never hungry. Everything we had was all here on the
Alise Rudio writes for the Jackson Hole