Chances are you’ve seen a picture of the famous barn in Grand Teton National Park. Or maybe you’ve been to see it in person and have your own photos of it. It’s dubbed as the “most photographed barn in the world” and the back story behind it is fascinating.
T.A. Moulton was a homesteader whose grandparents came to America in 1856. At the time, there were more Mormons in England than there were in America and, like many other Mormon families, they were anxious to come to a place that promised land and freedom of religion.
Thomas Alma first came to homestead 160 acres in the Jackson area in 1908. He was a bachelor at the time but by 1912 he would bring his bride, Lucille, over the Teton Pass to live in a crude, one room log cabin he had built.
The barn would come soon after, or at least the beginnings of what we see now. Over time, the side sections were added and eventually there was a place for cows and pigs. The log cabin was eventually replaced by a wood framed house and the Moulton family grew to include 6 children.
Life was undoubtedly difficult but satisfying living on Mormon Row, as it was called. It was prime agricultural land and the crops of hay, oats and wheat flourished. Right up until John D. Rockefeller Jr. secretly became involved. He wanted to purchase the land and turn it over to the federal government to preserve the wild scenery for future generations. To do so, he set up the Snake River Land Company which set out to buy out the homesteaders.
He would succeed at this and eventually nearly all of the homesteaders in the area would sell their land, some with a life lease connected to it. All except Thomas Alma Moulton. In 1963, just a few years before his death, he sold all but one acre off in order to insure that the family would inherit at least part of the land he had worked so hard to cultivate. To this day, it is one of the only privately owned parcels of land within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park.
All that is left of their original homestead is the barn now.
The house, fields, chicken coop and everything else are long gone. He and his wife are now laid to rest in Victor, Idaho but his legacy lives on, thanks to preservation efforts made by the family and Grand Teton National Park. The barn stands as a testament to the homestead life which once dominated the Jackson Hole area.