Jackson Lake in Teton National Park
A couple of things you never knew about Jackson Lake in Teton National Park
Already one of the largest natural lakes in Wyoming, the Jackson Lake (a major draw of Jackson Hole) in the Teton National Park became even larger in 1911 (and larger still in 1916) with the creation of the Jackson Lake Dam – one of the most interesting, exciting, and ambitious public works projects ever undertaken in America.
A red hot draw in the state of Wyoming as far as to resume is concerned, it contributes considerably to the local economy by pulling hundreds of thousands of people into the Teton National Park system every single year – and has been doing exactly that for close to 100 years or more.
Even still, there are some interesting little factoids and tidbits about Jackson Lake that a lot of people do not know (even those that have visited Jackson Lake a handful of times in their lifetime). We’ve put together a couple of the most interesting ones below!
Jackson Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the United States – but that’s because we made it that way!
Covering a surface area of 25,000+ acres and with a maximum depth of 438 feet, the Jackson Lake sits at a surface elevation of 6700 feet above the sea level – making it one of the largest lakes at this altitude in the United States and the rest of the Americas, for that matter.
Jackson Lake Dam
Sure, Jackson Lake has been a considerable part of the Teton National Park landscape ever since the glaciers receded in that last Ice Age, but it was because of American ingenuity and American engineering that it became the dominant body of water in the area that it is today.
The Jackson Lake Dam was originally created in 1906 and was at that time established to create a reservoir for the surrounding area. The first dam raised the lake level by close to 22 feet, though it was so poorly engineered and constructed that it failed in 1910 – forcing the US government to come in during 1911 and create a new concrete dam that raised the lake level by 30 feet across the board.
The architect behind this major public works project was Frank Banks, the man that would later go on to engineering, design, and supervise the construction of the Grand Coulee dam. Much of it’s construction was inspired by the work done here at Jackson Lake.
This dam in 1911 held all the way up until 1989 when a new construction project went underway to expand the lake even further. Today this dam holds back about 850,000 acre feet of water, which makes it one of the largest dams in the Western United States.
John D Rockefeller loved this part of America, but not as much as his son did
Right around the time that Theodore Roosevelt was carving out large tracts of natural land in the United States for conservation, in what would become the National Park Service. Millionaires all over the United States were buying up huge chunks of land and transforming them into their own little getaways.
Most Americans are familiar with the “bachelor pad” that would become the Biltmore estate (the largest private residence in the country), but many have no idea about the incredible “summer cabins” that some of the richest people on the planet built in this area of the nation.
The Rockefeller’s (unsurprisingly) were largely and holders in this part of the United States, though John D Rockefeller Junior was maybe the most involved when it came to Wyoming. Instrumental in the creation (and the funding behind the enlargement of) the Grand Teton National Park, this part of America was said to be the favorite of John D Rockefeller Junior. Which is one of the reasons why the Memorial Highway that connects Grand Teton National Park (and runs just north of Jackson Lake) and Yellowstone bears his name. He actually donated a large portion of land between Teton and Yellowstone parks to create John D Rockefeller Memorial parkway.
Though he never had the opportunity to create his own summer cabin in the region, he did make numerous trips out to Jackson Lake area. He contributed a significant amount of his inherited fortune and lands to the parks department so that these pristine examples of American beauty were maintained and kept that way for future generations to enjoy.