Barn to Be Wild: The Moulton Barn
Take a moment and picture a wide, flat valley. In the distance, the majestic snowcapped Tetons “rise like Olympus over the Serengeti” (thanks, Toto). Silhouetted against this backdrop is a barn, surrounded by the wooden bones of an old pasture. Do you have a clear picture in your mind? Is this what you’re picturing? If not, chances are you’ve still seen it before. Commonly called the Mormon Barn, the Moulton barn is the most famous and most photographed barn in the world. And there are actually two. Let’s talk about them.
Who were the Moultons?
John and Thomas Alma Moulton were brothers and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1907, they moved from Idaho to Jackson Hole and settled on adjacent parcels of land in a community called Mormon Row.
What is Mormon Row?
Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City sent out parties to establish smaller communities in Utah and surrounding states. Settlers started arriving from Idaho in the 1890s and established a small community now called Mormon Row. Originally called Gros Ventre after the nearby river, the name was too difficult for the U.S. government to pronounce, so the USPS changed the name to Grovont. However, in the 1920s, the nickname Mormon Row would stick and the name Grovont would only refer to the local post office.
When Grand Teton National Park was expanded in the 1950s, most of the homesteaders living on Mormon Row sold their land to the National Park Service. In 1963, T.A. sold his land to Grand Teton National Park, with the exception of one acre which he kept for himself and his family. In 2018, the last privately owned acre of Moulton land was acquired by the park.
Of the original 27 homesteads in the Grovont area, 6 remain today. They are: Thomas Perry, Andy Chambers, Thomas Alma Moulton, John Moulton, and Thomas Murphy.
How old is the barn?
T.A. Moulton began construction on his barn in 1913. It was originally a short, flat shelter meant to give his workhorses shelter through the winter. Fifteen years later, he added the hayloft with the steep gable roof and the extended eaves. Finally, in 1938, 25 years after the barn was started, the north and south shed additions were added and the barn, as it looks today, was completed.
John Moulton’s barn was built within a similar timeframe.
Who currently owns it?
Mormon Row is owned and maintained by the National Park Service. The Mormon Row Historic District was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Can I visit it?
Yes, usually! This summer, the National Park Service has begun a multimillion-dollar restoration project on the historic buildings, preserving them for generations to come. A quick 20-ish minute drive north from Jackson Hole and you’ll be there. The National Park Service has provided both a trail brochure and interpretive sign near the parking lot.
I can’t stay in the barn, so do you happen to know any good lodgings nearby?
At exactly 20 minutes and 13.6 miles from Mormon Row, Flat Creek Inn is the perfect location for your visit to this historic location! Call (307) 733-5276 to make your reservation.