The future repeats itself

We’ve been talking about out-of-control growth since at least the 1970s. Likely, long before that.

We came across two very interesting articles for those with the leisure time to read. Yeah, we know… “Leisure time?” “Read?”

But these are worth a skim.NatGeo 1976

Todd Wilkinson’s January 13, 2016 column in the News&Guide referenced a decades-old National Geographic article written by Francois Leydet in 1976. It was titled, “Jackson Hole: Good-bye to the Old Days?”

Homer Richards and Slim Lawrence, 1958
Homer Richards and Slim Lawrence, 1958

In it, old-time resident W.C. “Slim” Lawrence shared this concern. “I hate to see Jackson get so big, but I don’t see how we can stop it,” he told Leydet for the article. “All we can do is keep it as West as we can for as long as we can.”

Words to live by.

Also in the article was a quote from then town administrator Duane Wroe. Incidentally, he was father to Amy Wroe Bechtel who disappeared in 1997 when she went out for a run in Lander.

Wroe said, “I thought for years that growth was good. Now I’m convinced it can be a bummer.”

More words to live by.

And finally, Laney Hicks, who was a regional rep for Sierra Club back in the 1970s posed this 40 years ago: “The big question is this, is Jackson Hole going to be just another commercial resort or is it going to keep some of the genuine local color?”

What has become of our quaint mountain town? Has it lost its soul? How did this happen?

These questions are explored in a wonderfully informative paper by Clinton R. Pumphrey called, “From Sagebrush to Subdivisions: Visualizing Tourist Development in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 1967-2002.”

Jackson Hole K-MartA juicy quote from that research paper reads: “When K-Mart built a store in Jackson in the 1990s, citizen groups insisted that they design the store’s exterior in a way that better fit Jackson’s Old West feel. The rustic wooden siding installed on the store provided biting symbolism for what Jackson had become: a corporatized tourist town with an Old West façade.”


Are we still the “Last and Best of the Old West?” Or have we become what the News&Guide proposed our new slogan should be back in 2008? – “Jackson Hole, where California plays and Mexico works.”