Teton Valley Teton Village West Bank North West Bank South Star Valley South of Jackson West of Jackson North of Jackson Town of Jackson

Teton Village is the home of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and some of the best downhill skiing in the world. Located just 12 miles northwest of the town of Jackson, this mountain village offers some of the best winter and summer recreation in the Rocky Mountain Region. This area has some of the best fine dining and lodging options in the valley. Winter activities include both Nordic and Alpine skiing, snowboarding, horse drawn sleigh rides, and paragliding. Summer activities in Teton Village include the world-renowned Grand Teton Music Festival with over 40 summer concerts, hiking, biking, paragliding, tram rides, and golf at the Tom Fazio designed golf course “Shooting Star”. Real Estate options in this area include: The Four Seasons Resort private residences, Hotel Terra, Teton Mountain Lodge, Snake River Lodge and Spa, Granite Ridge, Ellen Creek, Lake Creek Ranch and Shooting Star.

History and The Birth of Jackson Hole Ski Resort

Winter was a quiet time in Jackson Hole in the years before the ski resort opened at Teton Village, 12 miles northwest of town, in late December of 1965.

Even with lively cutter races, a rope tow hauling skiers up Teton Pass and sledders sharing ski runs at Snow King, it was quiet -even “monotonous,” as one local said about a community the state formally recognized as economically depressed during winter months.

Several weeks before the opening of the Jackson Hole Ski Resort, the Ranch Bar featured “a sensational go-go girl” act, the Cowboy Bar hosted the annual Fireman’s Ball “merry­ making,” and the Duke himself, John Wayne, swaggered across the screen of the Teton Theater in “McClintock.”

But it was a dry fall, and the snow did not come. The long-heralded opening of the ski area – already pushed back a year in 1964 – was delayed to December 18, but still no snow. Finally a storm of mega-proportions hit the valley at Christmas, dropping more than 22 inches. The ski area opened on December 28.

The Jackson Hole Ski Corporation, with president Paul McCollister and vice-president Alex Morley, had taken shape in 1963. The pair often hiked up Rendezvous Mountain to ski its fresh powder two years before, after McCollister secured an option to buy Crystal Springs Ranch, a girls camp owned by Kenneth Clatterbaugh and located at the mountain’s base.

McCollister, a California advertising executive, had retired to Jackson with his family in 1957. In 1959, as president of the Jackson Hole Ski Club, McCollister and others considered developing a ski resort in Cache Creek but decided the area was too small.

After receiving a report in 1962 from ski industry consultant Will Schaeffer, who recommended the Rendezvous Mountain site as “absolutely ideal and overwhelming” for potential ski-area development, McCollister set out to create a major ski resort.

In 1963, the Ski Corp was born, with Morley and McCollister as the primary players. Gordon Graham, a business associate of McCollister’ s from California, later joined them and was named Ski Corp treasurer. McCollister received 50,000 Ski Corp shares, Morley received 25,000 shares and Graham received 12,500, at $1 a share.

Although the road ahead was fraught with obstacles, such as financing logistics, construction accidents, personality conflicts and freak weather, progress continued at the proposed resort.

The total project cost was an estimated $1.5 million, according to Wyoming Senator Gale McGhee, who, on December 26, 1963, announced from Washington that a $975,000 Area Redevelopment Administration loan (at 4 percent interest, to be repaid over 1920 years}to the Jackson Hole Ski Corp was approved, giving the Corp a green light to develop a multimillion dollar ski resort “in the heart of Jackson Hole country.”

The facility was to provide 106 people with work, who were normally jobless during the winter and would “provide a thriving economy for one of Wyoming’s most beautiful areas on a year-round basis,” he said.

Other investors included the Teton Investment Co., $300,000; the Wyoming Natural Resources Board, $150,000; and the Jackson Hole Ski Corp., $75,000.

The new ski area, scheduled to open in 1964, would have an aerial tram and three double chairlifts that year, with three four-passenger gondolas and five double chairlifts to follow, newspaper reports said.

But late spring storms stretching into May 1964, caused construction efforts to fall almost two months behind. What was billed as an April 2, 1964, ground-breaking ceremony became a “snow-breaking” ceremony, when more than three feet of spring snow blocked attempts to hit dirt with a shovel and dynamite.

Instead, “America’s newest and largest ski resort” would be completed early the next year, according to an October 1964, progress report issued by Ski Corp officials. In December 1965, two feet of snow piled up on Apres Vous Mountain, serviced by Teewinot and Apres Vous double chairlifts and Eagle’s Rest Chairlift, reserved for Pepi Steigler’s ski school. Nine ski patrolmen, office staff, “Iifties” and a handful of snowcat drivers rounded out the main crew. Still, it was a fairly quiet winter.

“The Village, for the first few years, was quiet,” one long-time Corp employee recalls. “I can remember staying out at the Village, getting drunk and walking (seven miles} home at 10 o’clock. Not a single car would pass me. In three hours.”

Bars were closed on Sundays; the Elks Club had the only bowling alley and most Village workers visited each other at home, he remembers. “People would go out on payday, which was every two weeks,” he said, noting he earned $2 an hour in 1965.

The winter closed with 19,500 skier days reported. By summer, the tram (then a free ride}was completed. In 1966-67, skier days jumped to 54,500, according to Gary Poulson, winter sports specialist for Bridger-Teton National Forest.

“Back in those days, it was a skier’s heaven; let’s face it,”the employee said. “Absolutely nobody was riding the tram … In early to mid 1980’s, it was still slow. Any January, you could hop on the tram and there’d be maybe 10, 15 people there.”

In 1987, the ski area reported 289 inches of snowfall at the top of the Rendezvous Mountain and 246,000 skier days. By that time, the Ski Corp had built five new lifts – the Thunder chair (1969), Casper Bowl chair (1973), Crystal Springs chair (1978), a Rendezvous Bowl surface lift and the Upper Sublette quad lift (1987).

In 1965, Graham had been fired; he and McCollister parted company. He later sold his 12 percent share of Ski Corp stock to John Duess, with whom McCollister had locked horns in 1988, Morley resigned in 1973, sold his 30,000 shares back to the Ski Corp, and moved to Utah.

McCollister continued to build a resort that often fell short of expectations but still had a major economic effect on the valley. In 1965, Frontier Airlines was the sole commercial airline at the Jackson Hole Airport.

Even with poor weather and the national recession, in the fall of 1991 the ski area hired more than 500 seasonal employees, raised lift ticket prices to $38 for a full day, and spring of 1992 reported 260,000 skier days.

The New Owners:

On July 9, 1992 John Kemmerer illpurchased controlling interest in the Jackson Hole Ski Corp. John Kemmerer ill, may be a stranger to most people in Teton County, but his ties to Wyoming run Jong and deep. Kemmerer is a descendant of Mahlon Kemmerer, who founded the Kemmerer Coal Company in 1897. Kemmerer, Wyoming, a polyglot mining community that sprung up around the mining operations, is named after his family.

The Kemmerers sold the mining company and its 93,000 acres in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah -which included oil and gas production holdings -to Gulf Oil Corporation for $325 million in a well publicized 1981 transaction.

A former director of First Wyoming Bank, Kemmerer chairs the chairs the Chatham, N.J. based Kemmerer Resources Corporation, a company that manages investments and operates various corporate holdings.

The Mountain:

The initial marketing efforts for the ski mountain touted it as a mountain suited for expert skiers. The reputation soon spread that this was the most difficult lift serviced skiing terrain in the United States; an image that the ownership has worked hard to overcome. It is true that the mountain offers excellent skiing for the advanced skier, but there is more beginning and intermediate terrain at Jackson Hole than at 90% of the ski areas in the country.

With 4,139 vertical feet (the longest vertical drop in the United States) and 2,500 skiable acres, one would expect the Jackson Hole Ski area to be among the leaders in skier visitation. However, over the years, three main factors have contributed to limit skier visits. The first of these is that Jackson is not located near any large cities; nearly all ticket sales are to destination skiers who spend a week or more skiing in the area. The second factor is that until 1987 there was no significant commercial jet service available to Jackson Hole. Flights in and out of the valley were extremely limited with small aircrafts offering poor connections to other flights. Over the past few years these problems have largely been taken care of; we are now serviced by Delta, American, United, United Express, Northwest, Continental and Skywest. The third and most important factor was the lack of capital available to Jackson Hole Ski Corporation. All capital improvements prior to 1987 were funded by the sale of corporation assets, namely real estate in the form of residential lots and condominiums. Although the monies generated by these means did allow for the construction of some mountain facilities, the huge potential which the skiing terrain offers was never fully realized.

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