White Grass Ranch

What a beautiful few weeks it has been, with so much history and happy people.

I was lucky to help with the White Grass Heritage Project: Sharing Your Legacy, indexing oral histories conducted this weekend.  Indexing is a method of transcription that captures the main topics of an interview with time stamps.

Oh to hear the stories of life on a ranch at the foot of the Teton Range.  From the Dudes who paid to leave their city lives for the wild rides through the sage brush to the Wranglers who found this tucked away community while at a rodeo or bar, listening to an acquaintance mention work at White Grass Ranch.  Or the family member of Frank Galey (last owner of the ranch before the NPS), who longed for the smell of freedom the ranch once possessed.

An especially unique aspect to the White Grass Heritage Project is its partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Western Center for Historic Preservation.  The National Trust is a platform where people can donate to the cause of saving historic structures.  As their site states, “The log buildings at White Grass are among more than 27,000 historic properties nationwide that the National Park Service lacks either the funds or the staff to adequately protect and maintain.”  Several hundred of these neglected structures reside in this park.

The Western Center for Historic Preservation (called WCHP -wood chip- for short) finds it’s home in Grand Teton National Park.  If I had extra money hanging around, I would pay for an HA class to fly out here for a fall or spring field trip to attend a training hosted by WCHP.  Although work is still being completed at White Grass, this location will be the hub for preservation training and research on the western side of the country.  For more information about WCHP’s work with White Grass Ranch, please click the following link: WCHP

Guests gathering to listen to Grand Teton National Park Superintendent, David Vela, speak.

Guests gather to listen to Grand Teton National Park’s Superintendent, David Vela, speak at the 101st White Grass Reunion.

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The White Grass Heritage Project occurred on the same weekend as the 101st White Grass Reunion (the land was homesteaded in 1913).  As a result, countless individuals not only brought in their stories to share but also their photographs and slides, allowing volunteers to scan copies that will be available through both GRTE’s archive and the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum.  Some even brought in objects that were given to them by family members or bought at auction after the ranch closed.

I listened to many stories this weekend and I couldn’t get enough.  Take for example, the White Grass brand.  Growing up in the desert, I never realized what a brand meant to people who lived on a ranch.  Even after a ranch is long gone, a person remembers the brand.

White Grass Brand

Information Credit to the National Park Service

White Grass Ranch Chairs

What I couldn’t get over was that this is just one of forty-four historic districts.  Each of these districts has a story.  My summer love has been the history of this area.  And I can’t let go.  So, I’ve decided to volunteer with the park’s archive after my internship ends, to see where the long Wyoming winter takes me.

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