Jackson Hole Historians Call This Summer the Hardest on Local Workforce Since 1869

Jackson Hole Historians Call This Summer the Hardest on Local Workforce Since 1869

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole Historians Call This Summer the Hardest on Local Workforce Since 1869

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Photo Credit: NPS

Beaver Dick Leigh taking care of his family in the Teton Valley circa 1869 | Photo Credit: NPS

It’s no secret, it’s tough to settle down in Jackson, WY these days.

After drawing national headlines thanks to a housing crisisthe nation’s largest income gap  and a worker shortage, local historians are now putting in their 2 cents saying things haven’t been this rough on locals since Andrew Johnson was President.

A sign of the times, the help wanted section of the Jackson Hole Daily is 6 pages long. Right now, it’s a more popular read than the crossword puzzle, comics, sports, or weather.

Help wanted section all day | Photo Credit:

Help wanted section all day | Photo Credit: Garry Knight

Workers in town have been busy herding the ever growing stream of tourists to Yellowstone while scrambling to find housing in a county with the nation’s largest income gap.

In the summer of 1869 locals were faced with similarly grim work schedules. Beaver Dick Leigh reportedly spent 25 days on a single trapping mission, pulling in over 200 beaver pelts, while fighting off three grizzly bears, a charging buffalo, and a group of Nez Perce Indians who claimed one of his traps had infringed on their territory.

Beaver Dick Leigh after his busy summer | Photo credit: Jackson Hole History

Beaver Dick Leigh and his Shoshone wife Jenny had six children after moving to the Tetons in 1863.

By the summer of ’69 Jenny was so busy dealing with the kids and Beaver Dick’s formidable bunions that she, “felt like she had been working doubles everyday for three months straight.”  Beaver Dick, who enjoyed nothing better than stacking cash for month on end so that he could “have a little freedom in the winter” had only these words to say about that summer:

“Oh, I only wish I could give to the world my experience in Indian life and the Rocky Mountains so they could understand it, but I lack the education to do it myself.”  – Beaver Dick’s diary

Later, in 1872, Beaver Dick guided the USGS’s first survey of the Yellowstone area.  Shortly there-after Jenny and Leigh Lakes were named for the two hard working locals.

Before their non-stop grind in 1869, the hardest working Teton area summer on record was in 1808 when John Colter made a series of rock carvings after sending the first known spring and geyser tour of Yellowstone by a white person.

A Skull from John Colter’s Busy Summer | Photo credit: NPS

Jenny and Beaver Dick’s summer of ’69 may never be eclipsed in terms of the shear man hours worked, but over 4 million more people will pass through this summer.  Luckily, help for locals has arrived in the form of well disciplined Eastern European college students.

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Turkish Electrical Engineering student Burcu here to give the people what they need | Photo Credit: @Jacksonholefoodie

According to Hassan – a Turkish radio broadcasting student who busses tables at the Q Roadhouse at night and works housekeeping during the day – the motel he stays at in Jackson is currently 60% packed with Turkish, Moldovan, and Russian students here to fill help wanted adds.

Hassan’s estimates that the other 40% of the motel’s patrons are Mexican and Puerto-Rican. Beaver Dick Leigh was an Englishman.

Jenny LAke

A view of the Tetons from the shore of Jenny Lake | Photo Credit: Billy Gast

This July Hassan may be almost as busy bussing tables at the Q Roadhouse as Beaver Dick was trapping Beaver, who knows if he, or anyone else in town, will be honored with a lake.

The Busiest Day of July in Teton Area History | Photo Credit: Grand Targhee

The Busiest Day of July in Teton Area History | Photo Credit: Grand Targhee

The record for the busiest single summer day in Teton area is still July 4th, 2011 when the combo of a Widespread Panic concert and a skiable base with running lifts at Grand Targhee made for a historically busy day.

*This is a work of satire

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