Heritage Resources

Human groups have occupied the mountains of western Wyoming, including the area now known as the Bridger-Teton National Forest, for the last 10,000 years.  Evidence of this human presence is found in sites, artifacts, buildings, trails, and historic documents.  Over 800 prehistoric and historic sites have been recorded on the Forest, yet less than 2% of the total Forest has been systematically inventoried for heritage resources.  Sites have been found from the lowest river bottoms to the tops of mountain ranges.  The Heritage Resource Program on the Bridger-Teton is committed to the study, protection, and interpretation of these non-renewable resources, so that present and future generations may learn about their cultural past and begin to understand the fundamental relationship between the people and the land.

Please remember: Federal Law prohibits unauthorized artifact collecting and excavating. Help preserve this non-renewable resource by taking only photographs and leaving only foot prints.

 

Prehistory

The prehistoric populations who called this area their home were nomadic hunters and gathers.  They did not practice agriculture, nor did they establish permanent villages or settlements.  Instead, they moved through the valleys and mountains on a seasonal basis to take advantage of the abundant plant and animal resources in the area.  Spring time might find these groups at lower elevations where plants were beginning to bloom and fish were spawning in the rivers and creeks.  With the onset of summer and the melting of snow from the foothills and mountains, these groups would follow the migration of big game animals and maturing plant species to progressively higher elevations.  By late summer and early fall these groups would locate themselves in the high mountain forests and meadows, only to return to the lower elevations with the approaching winter snows. 

This portion of the Rocky Mountains is adjacent to the Great Plains to the east, the Great Basin to the west and southwest, and the Columbia Plateau to the northwest.  It is likely that the people who lived in this area had contact with other cultural groups through migrations to adjacent areas, which helped shape the culture of these people who called the mountains of western Wyoming their territory.

 

Click on the following links to learn more about the history of each time period on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

 

Paleo-Indian Period: 11,500 to 8,000 years Before Present

 

Archaic Period: 8,000 to 1,500 years Before Present

 

Late Prehistoric Period: 1,500 to 400 years Before Present

 

Proto-Historic Period: 1650 AD to Contact with Euro-American People (ca. 1805)

 

Historic Period

The historic period on the Bridger-Teton begins in 1807 with the arrival of the first of the Euro-American fur trappers.  Although the Historic Period spans only 200 years, there is a rich diversity in the types of historic activities and sites that reflect the life styles and culture typical of the American West.

 

Early Fur Trappers: 1807-1840

 

The Lander Cut-off of the Oregon Trail

 

The Tie Hack Era

 

Creation of the Bridger-Teton National Forest

 

Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC)

 

To learn more about Historic Guard Stations on the Bridger-Teton National Forest
click here.



Key Contacts

Forest Archeologist
Jamie Schoen
307-739-5523
jschoen@fs.fed.us