National Geographic : 1956 Jan
Wildlife Adventuring in Jackson Hole relinquished operation of his friendly weather beaten dude ranch, swearing he'll fish every day as long as he lives. Well, he may have missed a few, but we usually find him perched on his folding chair beside the Snake River or one of its tribu taries, his bait in the water, boyish anticipa tion in his attitude. Uncle Jim's appearance makes him a land mark. He wears a full beard, and his battered felt hat holds about five pounds of fishing spoons and spinners, plugs, flies, and plastic minnows. "Got that one from Montgomery Ward in 1910," he says, touching a favorite lure. "Never had a better spinner." Uncle Jim likes to tell about the time he crossed wits and matched hunting indiscre tions with a game warden (now in the Happy Hunting Grounds) whom he calls just "Bill." This, he takes pains to explain, was long ago, when he was young and thoughtless and wardens weren't all they might have been. Uncle Jim, it seems, had shot two elk (his permit allowed him one), and the officer caught him. Let Uncle Jim tell it himself: The Widow's Elk "'This second elk o' mine,' I tells the warden, 'is for a pore old widder woman with three hongry kids.' "'Wal,' says Bill, 'that may be, but I foundja with two elk, and I'll hafta reportja.' "I says, 'Before you git too busy reportin' me, answer me this: Where was you last August twenty-fifth?' "Bill went a little saller, sorta butter-col ored, and comes back, 'Eh? And where was you, Jim?' "'Right acrost the crick from you.' " 'Doin' what?' "'Skinnin' out a moose-just like you was. Out of season meat huntin', wasn't ya?' "'Wal, Jim,' says Bill after considerable chin-rubbin', 'let's both fergit all about this, which some folks might not understand jest the way we do. Shake!'" Another old-timer is Mrs. Evelyn M. ("Gran") Dornan. The patio of Gran's home at Moose com mands a superb view over the Snake River and Teton peaks. Sitting there, we often have watched white-footed mice flick in and out of the shadows. "There goes tomorrow's dinner for your owls," Gran might say. Though she is a keen naturalist and fond of birds and mammals, she has never been averse to trapping mice for us. She wraps them in foil and keeps them in the refriger ator. Gran's white-footed mice helped feed some of our experimental birds. Mrs. Dornan left a comfortable life in Philadelphia to migrate to Jackson Hole and homestead nearly 40 years ago. Her spa cious riverfront living room once was a black smith shop with a dirt floor. Here she gra ciously entertains visitors. She enjoys and makes good conversation and is an overbrim ming reservoir of local history and informa tion, having known hundreds of the cast in the drama of valley happenings. Gran claims she's such a fund of informa tion because she's a little hard of hearing in one ear. "Everything goes in one ear," she says, "and can't get out the other." Park Triples in Size Summer nights, through the picture win dows of our cabins, we look across the sage brush flats and the Snake River cottonwoods at a thousand-eyed dragon writhing along beneath the Teton ramparts-the procession of automobiles carrying visitors to this en chanted landscape. Congress, in 1950, extended the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park to include some privately owned land and larger areas formerly in Jackson Hole National Monument. This more than tripled the size of the park, now over 310,000 acres. About one-sixth of the new acreage consists of former private hold ings bought by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and presented to the American people. "Conservation today means far more than just preserving our natural resources," said his son Laurance S. Rockefeller, at the dedi cation of the new $6,000,000 Jackson Lake Lodge the Rockefellers built last summer for park visitors. "It means their wise use and protection so that more and more people may enjoy and benefit by them." The Lodge was sited to afford its guests a tremendous view across Jackson Lake to the Tetons (page 20). It offers excellent accom modations, but the rates are reasonable; Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., in which the management is vested, is a nonprofit organ ization. When we visited the Lodge in mid August, its 300 rooms had been filled almost every night since the June opening.