Cunningham Cabin, Grand Teton National Park
The sun has risen over 45,000 times since Margaret and Pierce Cunningham built this cabin in 1888. On some of those days the light has been faint and cold but on others it has been full of promise and warmth. The modest cabin, like its aging counterparts in the valley, lacked the comforts and conveniences of modern life, but the Cunningham homestead, located near the Snake River (background), provided the basis for a life of independence and freedom in a grand country. They were part of a growing wave of settlement seeking not to get rich but to be free. And they were successful. In 1900 every single farm and ranch in Jackson Hole was listed in the census as completely free of debt and mortgage. As with other farms and ranches in the area, the Cunninghams were reasonably self sufficient and were sovereigns of their own domain. Although they sold the place in 1909, they bought it back in 1914 and maintained their operation through hard times and good times until the 1920s when, like many others, they adopted commercial agricultural production practices, became dependent upon markets, and fell prey to the combination of high debts and low prices, ultimately selling their property in 1929.
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