JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013 We sure like to have our fun in winter. You have to, really. It\u2019s a long season that tends to isolate the valley from the outside world and, back in the day, made hermits out of a lot of folks toughing it out in their cabins.\r\n\r\nIn recognition of the new event series (Brews and Banter*) sponsored by Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, this week\u2019s Hole History looks at winter in Jackson. While the monthly series this January focuses on winter sports, Buckrail dug up an interesting gem from 1940 that displays Jackson\u2019s independent, outlaw spirit. It\u2019s a classic.\r\n\r\nThe Pass comes of age \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe 1920s brought a transition from primarily horse-drawn wagons and sleighs over Teton Pass to automobiles. The Oregon Shortline Railroad head in Victor was still the predominant departure and arrival point for access to Jackson Hole from all points in the country. Once there, it was a 26-mile ride over the \u201cBig Bump\u201d into Jackson\u2019s Hole.\r\n\r\nBy the mid-1930s, residents were clamoring for year-round access in and out of the valley during winter. As snowplow equipment and technology improved, it was soon possible to clear Teton Pass of snow. In 1937, Teton Pass was kept open all winter with residents of Jackson Hole even kicking in a \u201cdual taxation\u201d fund of their own of $600-800 a year to supplement the state\u2019s budget to keep the plows running.\r\n\r\nThen, in January 1940, the State Highway Department suddenly decided it was too costly to keep the pass open all winter. A letter from district highway engineer William Sutton of Rock Springs declared the state would no longer plow Teton Pass beginning in the new year. Reaction from JH was swift and savage.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCitizens objected to the notion that the state did not have the money to keep the pass open. After all, of the State Highway Department\u2019s annual $18,000,000 budget, a mere $1,300 was all it took to keep Teton Pass open during the winter of 1938-39. In addition, the decision appeared political in nature. News that the state decided Togwotee Pass would be plowed all winter long for the first time ever didn\u2019t sit well with many residents.\r\n\r\nThe Jackson\u2019s Hole Courier called Togwotee a road \u201cthree times as long as Teton Pass road and felt by many locals to be far less usable and of little distinct benefit to Jackson Hole.\u201d It was 217 miles to nearest railhead in Lander heading over Togwotee, whereas only 26 miles separated Jackson from the world via Teton Pass.\r\n\r\nJackson's Hole Courier - Jan 4, 1940.pdf\r\n\r\nA front-page story in the January 4, 1940 Courier included phrases like, \u201cResidents at fever pitch,\u201d and \u201cFeeling boiled high.\u201d Hundreds of pleas were sent to Governor Nels Smith. Mayor Harold Clissold wrote and telephoned state highway engineer RJ Templeton and Governor Smith himself. William L Simpson of Cheyenne, along with his son, Milward Simpson of Jackson\/Cody, personally met with the governor as well.\r\n\r\nIt was no use. The state would not budge.\r\n\r\nStorm brews \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, private citizens were trying to figure out a way to plow the road themselves. Ross Deke, a road committee member, offered his own heavy-duty GMC truck. Another offered a plow blade. Several businessmen in the community also made tentative offers to help. If all failed, the town would use its puny street plow to head up the pass and do what it could.\r\n\r\nThen, on January 9, 1940, some 200 residents of Jackson calling themselves a \u201cborrowing delegation\u201d made a march past several saloons on their way to storm the state highway department\u2019s facility and demand the night watchman let them in. They were going to commandeer state plows and clear the pass themselves. After all, was the equipment not property of taxpaying citizens?\r\n\r\nThe gambit worked. When Gov. Smith learned what was happening he ordered state plow drivers to man their machines and do the work rather than risk private citizens behind the wheel causing potential damage to equipment. A long-range solution was also worked out, and in a matter of days the January 11, 1940 the Courier headline read: \u201cGov. Smith Intercedes in Teton Pass Opening.\u201d\r\n\r\nJackson's Hole Courier - Jan 11, 1940\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat should have resulted in punishment from Cheyenne for the attempted pirating of state equipment, was in actuality a concession of Jackson Hole\u2019s unique brand of passion. Judging from news stories in publications as far away as Salt Lake and Idaho Falls, public sentiment was with the vigilante actions of Jackson\u2019s citizens.\r\n\r\nArrangements were made to keep Teton Pass open all winter provided winter storms were \u201clight\u201d in nature. Whatever the rest of the season brought for snowfall, state highway plow drivers did, indeed, consider it \u201clight\u201d and kept the pass open for the remainder of 1940 and ever since.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n*Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum presents \u201cBrews and Banter\u201d on the last Thursday of the month.\r\n\r\nThe program kicks off TONIGHT at 7pm on January 25 with the theme of "Winter Sports in Jackson Hole." Panelists include Rod Newcomb, Peter Ashley, Jeff Crabtree, Donna Clark, and Angus Thuermer. In addition, the JHHSM will be showing 1940s (and earlier!) film footage of skiing at Snow King, the Cutter Races, and snow plane races on Jackson Lake. These oral and visual histories will bring retro skiing to life! Come by 225 N Cache Street to join in the fun.\r\n\r\nThursday\u2019s event is free and open to the public. The evening is generously sponsored by Roadhouse Brewing. The first 40 attendees will receive one free beer.