Sky Ranch Historic District

By Carly-Ann Anderson

January 29, 2016

Sky Ranch is a 13-acre vacation property approximately 3 miles west of Moose, Wyoming, in Grand Teton National Park.  Built in 1953, the property consists of a main cabin, a guest house, bathhouse, bunk house, a barn, and a corral.  The natural landscape of the property is notable, and includes a pond, a lawn with a patio and barbeque area, access roads and walking paths, as well as original gates and fences all set against in the beautiful Snake River valley, between the Teton and Gros Ventre ranges.  

Photo: National Park Service

Sky Ranch was built by William Balderston II and his family.  Balderston first came from Philadelphia to the Tetons to work on the Jackson Lake dam in 1914, and is said to have noted “I will never forget my first view of the magnificent Teton Range as we made our way up the valley in wagons [from Victor, Idaho].”  Balderston went on to have a successful business career, but kept his vow to return to the Tetons.  In 1952, he persuaded fellow Philadelphian Frank Galey, owner of the White Grass Ranch (home today to the Western Center for Historic Preservation) where the Balderstons often vacationed, to sell him 5 acres for Sky Ranch.  

Balderston hired noted Philadelphia architect John Arnold Bower to design the property in a Rustic style prevalent in the Jackson Hole area.  A local Norwegian contractor and crew crafted the buildings to look like pioneer structures.  The building is integrated well with its setting and used locally cut logs and collected stone.  The interior of the main lodge features exposed log walls, wood floors, stone fire places, custom knotty pine doors, knotty pine paneling and wrought iron hardware.  The family also furnished the house with Rustic furniture, much of which remains on the property.

The Balderston family used this property until 2005 when their long-term lease with the National Park Service expired and the property was turned over to Grand Teton National Park to manage.  A group of American Studies Historic Preservation students from the University of Wyoming, led by Research Scientist Mary Humstone, investigated the Sky Ranch property and determined it was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places both for its architectural and historic significance.  

Today, Sky Ranch remains in remarkably good condition and its features have been well preserved.

However, the National Park Service (NPS) proposes demolishing the National-Register eligible Sky Ranch – WE DISAGREE!

Pledge your support for Sky Ranch here. 

Log Detail.JPG


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1 Comment

  • bySusan Lamb
    Posted January 30, 2016 6:49 pm 0Likes

    This home and it’s history is America. The story of one family that we are all apart of. Almost all of our great grandparents , no matter how many or few generations back, came from another land and settled in this great country of ours. This is the story of one family that like so many of us settled in the east where our 13 colonies began , because that’s where their other family members before them were or where they could get work. Not many Americans had
    come west yet by 1914. This family’s ansector had a job opportunity to go west to this new state (1890) and help build a Damn that would provide water for farmers and families in
    towns in Idaho and Wyoming . I can only imagine how humbling and awe inspiring it must have been when this young Philadelphian man saw the majestic beauty of our Grand Teton Moutain range by covered wagon for the first time. I know I still see my first moment in my minds eye and smile each time I think of its beauty . To know one American’s story of how that first moment so inspired his love of the area , that he build this beautiful home for all his future generations to enjoy , is our American Dream story. This home , not house , as a house is just a structure , a home is love, babies, family and memories … And all historic homes like it must be preserved for future generations to know our history and how we all share in this link to our fellow Americans. Our wise ancestors and past government leaders worked together to preserve the land for its beauty to be shared by all. Let’s follow their leadership and preserve this historic home if possible. If funds are not available to preserve it let it go back to the land wher it came from naturally . This should not be a difficult decision for anyone .

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