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Lonely Planet Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks: 2 expert authors with more than 500 hours of in-park research provide in-depth information on hiking, camping, activities and trip planning.

Menors Ferry Historic District

Trail Features: History, Scenic Views menors-ferry
Trail Location: Menors Ferry Historical Site
Roundtrip Length: 0.4 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 6463 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 10 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 50 Feet
Highest Elevation: 6463 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 0.42 (easy)
Parking Lot Latitude 43.6595
Parking Lot Longitude -110.71429

Trail Description:

The Menor's Ferry Historic District is located roughly two-tenths of a mile north of the Moose Entrance on Teton Park Road. After turning off the main road, drive another seven-tenths of a mile to reach the parking area for Menor’s Ferry. The short walk of less than a half-mile begins from the east end of the parking area.

William D. Menor came to Jackson Hole and set-up his homestead beside the Snake River in 1894. In addition to his cabin and general store, he constructed a ferry that became a vital crossing point for the early settlers in the Jackson Hole valley.

menors-ferry-historic-districtPark visitors can step back in time by taking the short self-guided walk through the Menor's Ferry Historic District. You'll have an opportunity to visit Menor's cabin, general store, ferry, and the transportation shed that houses a collection of wagons and coaches from the homestead era. The site also includes Maud Noble's cabin, which played a major role in the establishment of Grand Teton National Park.

A short distance from the trailhead the loop portion of this short hike begins. You'll want to bear left to begin this self-guided tour.

The first building on the tour is Bill Menor's cabin and general store. Menor built the west wing of his original homestead cabin in 1894, and then added the central wing during the following year. In 1905 he added the east wing, which would become his general store. Park visitors can step inside to see period furniture in the home, or purchase period goods in the general store.

menors-ferryThe Menor Cabin also played another minor part in history when it became the point of departure for the first ascent of Grand Teton on August 11, 1898.

Next to the general store is an old storehouse and root cellar.

Just beyond the cabin and general store is Menor's Ferry itself, which was also built in 1894. Menor operated the ferry until 1918 before selling to Maud Noble, who continued operations until a steel truss bridge was built over the Snake River at Moose in 1927.

The ferry is essentially a pontoon of two floats connected by a platform. This type of vessel is known as a "reaction ferry," which has a design that dates back to ancient times. The ferry uses the force of the river to propel the pontoon along a cable stretched across the river. The platform had sufficient room for a wagon and four-horse team. Menor charged 50 cents for a wagon and team, 25 cents for a horse and rider, but was free for pedestrians if a wagon was crossing. The current ferry and cable system on the site today is a replica of the original.

maud-noble-cabinWhile at the ferry you'll have the opportunity of possibly spotting a kingfisher, osprey, or maybe even a bald eagle along the riverside.

From the ferry the trail swings to the south and heads towards the transportation shed. Here you'll find a collection of wagons and coaches from the homestead era, as well as other early methods of transportation. Included in the collection are wagons that were used by Yellowstone National Park tourists prior to 1916.

Beyond the shed is the final stop of the tour at the Maud Noble cabin. Noble purchased the homestead property from Menor in 1918. In that same year she moved her cabin from the east side of Cottonwood Creek to its current location. A few years later the cabin would become the site for an historical meeting.

On July 26, 1923, Maud Noble hosted a meeting with Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Horace Albright, and a small group of local businessmen and ranchers. Concerned with commercial development in the area, the group developed a plan for a wealthy individual to purchase private land that would then be donated to the federal government in order to preserve it. Albright would eventually convince John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to form the Snake River Land Company, which began purchasing land from ranchers in 1927.

chapel-of-the-transfiguration Rockefeller also purchased the Noble property in 1929. He restored the structures and the ferry, and donated the entire property to the National Park Service in 1953. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

Also at the Menors Ferry Historic District site, but not on the walking path, is the Chapel of the Transfiguration. This historic log chapel was built on land donated by Maud Noble in 1925. The chapel was sited and built to frame a view of the Cathedral Group (Grand Teton, Mt. Owen and Teewinot Mountain) in a large window behind the altar. The chapel was featured in the 1963 movie Spencer’s Mountain. Filmed in Jackson Hole, the movie starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara, and became the basis for the popular TV series, The Waltons. Today the chapel remains a house of worship for both locals and visitors alike.