Snake River at Jackson Lake Dam & Cattleman's Bridge
Joyce Hendrix posing by the Snake River at Cattleman's Bridge in Grand Teton National Park
Joyce is making history as she stands beside the spot where Cattleman's Bridge once stood. Cattleman's Bridge was a link to the past when Grand Teton National Park was created. I will explain that later.
Snake River at Cattleman's Bridge in Grand Teton National Park July 2011
Rafters, kayakers, canoers and fisherman use Cattleman's Bridge as a place to put their craft into the Snake River. Cattleman's Bridge is accessed by a road that goes behind Oxbow Bend.
You can locate this road just north of Oxbow Bend. It is a gravel road but well maintained and suitable for small passenger vehicles.
Snake River looking upstream from Cattleman's Bridge in Grand Teton National Park
At this spot in the Snake River A long, narrow bridge made of wood planks once stretched across the river. That bridge connected not just the bank on the opposite shore with this side, but actually connected the present with the past.
Before modern Grand Teton National Park was created in 1950, many local people had fought proposals to expand the small national park established in 1929. Fearing the loss of grazing rights on public land, ranchers in particular had resisted the creation of a larger park.
A small number of ranchers grazed their cattle west of the Snake River in the area of the Potholes, south of Signal Mountain, moving them to summer range east of the river, crossing on the dam at Jackson Lake near the town of Moran, now removed but then located just west of here at the base of Jackson Lake Dam. When the new, larger national park was created in 1950, two things happened. One was that, unlike other national parks, grazing was permitted during the life of the ranchers at the time. The other was that the new park received more visitors. Herding cattle across the dam became problematic so the National Park Service and the ranchers agreed to find an alternate place to cross the river, and Cattleman's Bridge was that location.
In the middle 1950's "Cattleman's Bridge" was constructed, but not long afterwards, the Potholes ceased to be used for grazing. So the bridge was used for cattle drives only a short while. The bridge remained, however, and was used in the following decades by people hiking or fishing. In 1962 the bridge even appeared prominently in one scene of the movie Spencer's Mountain.
The bridge was finally taken down in 2001 after it had partially collapsed. While it existed, however, the bridge revealed one aspect of the distinctive history of Grand Teton National Park.
Jackson Lake Dam forming the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park
This picture was taken from below Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park looking to the south west. That is Grand Teton peaking over Jackson Lake Dam. Jackson Lake is at full pool and dumping as much water as possible into the Snake River. I say as much as possible without creating flooding in Jackson about 35-miles downstream.
Jackson Lake Dam was constructed between 1911 and 1916 with supplies being brought in over Grassy Lake Road from Ashton, Idaho where the nearest railhead was located. Grassy Lake Road crosses the upper Teton Range between Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
Where we are at the Jackson Lake Dam is just a mile or so upstream from Cattleman's Crossing.
Snake River emerging from Jackson Lake at Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park
The Snake River has it's origin in Yellowstone National Park before flowing past the south entrance to Yellowstone then past Flag Ranch and along Grassy Lakes Road before entering Grand Teton National Park where it quickly enters Jackson Lake. The Snake River is ensconced within Jackson Lake for around 25-miles before it is released at Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park to once again form the Snake River.
Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton which is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. That is "Grand Teton" that you are looking at on the other side of Jackson Lake Dam. At 13,775 feet, Grand Teton rises abruptly more than 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole here in Grand Teton National Park.
Until next time remember how good life is.
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Until next time remember how good life is.