April 05, 2013
The Cunningham Cabin is a double-pen log cabin in Grand Teton National Park. The cabin was built as a homestead in Jackson Hole and represents an adaptation of an Appalachian building form to the West. The cabin was built just south of Spread Creek by John Pierce Cunningham, who arrived in Jackson Hole in 1885 and subsisted as a trapper until he established the small ranch in 1888. The Cunninghams left the valley for Idaho in 1928, when land was being acquired for the future Grand Teton National Park.
Cunningham and his wife grew about 100 acres of hay, later irrigating another 140 acres to provide feed for 100 cattle and eight horses. His brother, W. Pierce Cunningham, settled his family nearby. By 1924 the Cunningham ranch comprised 560 acres. By 1926 Cunningham had moved out of cattle and was raising sheep on the land.
J. Pierce Cunningham was one of the original county commissioners chosen when Teton County was organized in 1923. He was also, at various times, justice of the peace, postmaster and game warden.
After 1895 the Cunninghams, who had built a more commodious house, used the cabin as a barn or a smithy. A small fortification was erected in 1895 during unrest involving the Bannack Indians. Traces of foundations survive. The cabin was the scene of a shootout in 1899 between a Montana posse and two horse thieves, who were killed at the scene. The dead men, who had worked for Cunningham the previous season, were buried in unmarked graves nearby.
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