The Teton Mountains—Before Tourism Took Over
Thanks for having me today. This is my first time on Petticoats and Pistols, and I’m excited to be here. Usually I’m busy writing stories set during the French Revolution or in Michigan’s blustery Upper Peninsula, but this month I’ve got a western novel releasing called The Wyoming Heir. This book is special to me not only because it features a rather handsome cowboy, but because my cowboy is from one of the most beautiful parts of the country I’ve ever laid eyes on: The Jackson Hole and Teton Valleys.
This beautiful area harbors the splendid Teton Mountain Range, and it is a breathtaking site to behold. The Jackson Hole Valley was named after an early explorer and trapper, David Edward Jackson. However, John Coulter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is credited as being the first white man to ever lay eyes on this part of the country in 1807.
When Coulter arrived back east with his reports of the beautiful Teton Range, society was skeptical and slow to believe him. Easterners had never seen such bold, craggy peaks as those of the Tetons. And can you blame them for doubting Coulter? Would you believe the Teton Mountains existed without being able to see photographs?
Painters and photographers did eventually make their way west to record the beauty of the Tetons, but not for another half century. The landscape has since been captured by such famous artists as:
Thomas Moran (This painting hangs in the Oval Office of the White House and faced the president.)
And later, Ansel Adams
Though Coulter originally saw the Jackson Hole Valley in 1807, it wasn’t until the 1870’s that settlers came to the area. The valley floors contain poor soil for farming, but excellent land for grazing cattle. Thus ranchers such as my hero, Luke Hayes, moved into the valleys.
Today the Jackson Hole and Teton Valleys are full of tourism and dude ranches, but back in 1893, nothing but miles and miles of prairie existed. In fact, my novel takes place one year before the town of Jackson was officially incorporated. Ranching this area of the country would have been a lonely, desolate life, but one full of natural beauty and splendor.
In The Wyoming Heir, Luke Hayes must leave his beloved Teton Valley to travel east, but his love for the West haunts him the entire time he’s gone.
What about you? Do you have a favorite place in the American West? What makes this area so special to you?
Naomi will be giving away one copy of The Wyoming Heir (winner’s choice of ebook or paperback). Please leave a comment in order to enter.
Given a choice, Luke Hayes wouldn’t ever leave his Wyoming ranch. Yet when his estranged grandfather dies, leaving him everything, he’ll travel to Valley Falls, New York—but only to collect his sister and his inheritance. He won’t be roped into saving a floundering girls’ school, no matter what mathematics teacher Elizabeth Wells says.
Elizabeth has defied social convention and her own family for the sake of her beloved Hayes Academy. Luke is pure rancher, from the tip of his Stetson to the scuff on his boots, yet he’s also becoming her unlikely ally. Only he can help save her job and school…but how much will she lose when the time comes for him to leave?
For more information about Naomi and her novels, visit her website at www.NaomiRawlings.com.