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Last private acre on Mormon Row to go to Teton park

June 8, 2018 GMT

Then last acre of private land on historic Mormon Row will become part of Grand Teton National Park.

The deal involves a purchase by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation and then a donation by the foundation to the park.

The acre, the final remnant of land T.A. Moulton homesteaded settled in 1906, went on the market last year. It has been operated in recent years as a bed and breakfast by Moulton’s great-grandson, Hal Blake, and his wife, Iola. The Blakes decided to sell so they could retire and be closer to family in Idaho.

Though the sale could have been made to anyone with the $5 million asking price, on Friday afternoon a deal was announced that has the Grand Teton National Park Foundation buying the land and donating it.

Leslie Mattson, president of the foundation, said she received calls after the land went on the market last August. People worried, she said, that the parcel might be developed in a way that would hurt the Mormon Row Historic District.

“When the property was listed we had a number of phone calls from historic preservationists and other groups who were concerned,” Mattson said. “We said that if we could find someone to help with this we’d pursue it.”

Among the callers was a person who had contributed to the effort that bought 640 acres of state land on Antelope Flats in 2016 and transferred it to the park. That donor, Mattson said, will remain anonymous, despite being a central figure in the Mormon Row effort.

“Sometimes an angel arrives at your doorstep,” she said.

Under county zoning, up to 10,000 feet of additional space could be built on the parcel. It now accommodates a 2,652-square-foot house where the Clarks live in the summer and six guest cabins, two of them remodeled original ranch buildings.

Teton park officials say they’ll use the buildings to house Park Service employees.

The Moulton family was not only among the first homesteaders on Mormon Row, adjacent to Blacktail Butte, but also the last still working the land there. Clark Moulton, Hal Blake’s granddad, raised grain and cattle until 1979.

In a Jackson Hole News&Guide article last summer, Blake recalled standing on the land with his grandfather, surrounded by open land and with the Tetons dominating the western view.

“I can remember distinctly standing here with my granddad, and him saying, ‘This is the biggest acre in the country.’”

More details on this story will be in the weekend edition of the Jackson Hole Daily, and on our website later today.