History of Town Square
An informal town square of dirt emerged naturally in the growing town of Jackson. Upgraded in the 1920s when Jackson elected an all-female town council, the council voted to reserve the land for a beautified public shared space. They also voted that year to grade more roads, collect taxes, and officially reserve land for a beautified town square.
In 1932, the still vacant space was fenced, the grass was sown, and trees planted.
The work took place under the guidance of Olaus Murie, the wildlife biologist best known for his studies of the Jackson Hole elk herd. The now-famous elk antler arches on the four corners of the Square are the perfect place for photos. To see where Olaus lived, visit The Murie Center of the Teton Science Schools in Grand Teton National Park.
In the center of the Square is a war memorial commissioned by American Legion Post No. 43 in 1976. Their hall, built in 1929, sits on the corner of North Cache Street and East Gill Avenue and is largely unchanged.
Over the last 30 years or so, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum has grown and developed to include more educational activities, sophisticated exhibits, increased museum store sales, and improved research opportunities. Please make a point to visit JHHSM, your goings about the valley will be all the more informed!
The collection now includes more than 7,200 objects, 19,200 photographs, 8,200 records, and 460 oral histories. Major accomplishments include digitizing a majority of the collection and integrating the collection into a digital database, consolidating a majority of the collection’s paper-based materials in the climate-controlled Stan Klassen Research Center, developing detailed exhibits and information on American Indians of the Greater Yellowstone area, creating an archaeology research and education program, and improving our online presence.
The Jackson Hole Boy Scout Elk Antler Auction is traditionally held on Town Square the third Saturday in May. Elkfest is a community celebration built around the auction. It features activities related to nature, outdoor skills, hunting, and ecological education and awareness. Activities include the Mountain Man Rendezvous and the High Noon Chili Cook-Off.
The Boy Scouts assist the Refuge with harvesting the shed antlers and auction them to bidders from around the world who make furniture, wall decorations, jewelry and food products from them. This annual event, which includes the High Noon Chili Cook-Off and the Mountain Man Rendezvous kick-off, supports the National Elk Refuge with a large portion of auction proceeds going back to habitat enhancement projects on the Refuge.
The Town Square Shootout wouldn't be complete without the Elk Antler Arches! They serve as the backdrop to the longest running shootout show in the west. Visitors and locals delight in the reenactment of Old West justice carried out by professional actors summer evenings from Monday through Saturday at 6:00pm. There's no shootin' on Sundays!
Started by Chamber boosters in the 1960's the Town Square Shootout started with a wild flair that tended toward the violent. Managed by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce with the team from the Jackson Hole Playhouse, the show is now more colorful with period costumes and plenty of playfulness! Click here.
The Stagestop is located on the south side of Town Square, off Broadway. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely Stagecoach Ride and tour of historic Jackson Hole. Managed by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, fees collected from the Stagecoach help fund the Town Square Shootout.
Fall Arts Fest, Farmers Markets, seasonal ice skating, and many special events like the Million Dollar Music Fest take place on the Square all year long!!
References and More Information
- Town of Jackson: www.townofjackson.com
- ElkFest: www.elkfest.org
- ElkFest Flyer About the 2015 Arch Auction: www.elkfest.org
- National Geographic on Town Square Shootout: Cowboys and Immigrants: An African Emigre’s Jackson, Wyoming by Alexandra Fuller
- Town Square Webcam: Click here.
Need more information? Explore our Explorer Magazine Travel Planner, which you can also explore electronically HERE. If you're already here, feel free to stop by one of our Visitor Centers where an experienced agent will be able to guide you in the right direction.