"Preserving America's Barn"

One Author’s Battle To Preserve A Treasured Part Of Old West History

Candy Vyvey Moulton and the Legacy of the Tetons

Tuesday, August 26 2008 19:42   People of the West

Some call it America’s Barn, others call it a Wyoming treasure, but no matter what you call it, the historic Moulton Barn in Grand Teton National Park would have disappeared by now without the efforts of one Western author, Candy Vyvey Moulton.

In the early 1990s, the Moulton Barn, along with other historic buildings in the park, literally were falling apart.


“If we hadn’t done the work we did in 1994, 1995 and 1996, I guarantee that by today the barn

would be gone,” Moulton told  OldWestNewWest.com. “The policy that the National Park Service had back then was that the park should return to a natural state.”

That policy meant the buildings which made up the historic Mormon Row section in Grand Teton National Park would be left to deteriorate, to be lost forever. By 1994, some buildings surrounding the Moulton Barn actually had been razed, and in one case burned.

Moulton thought that the policy was flat-out wrong. Having been a newspaper reporter for many years, she was not going to give up without a fight. She contacted newspapers around Jackson, WY, and soon the news began to spread all around the Jackson Hole area. People began to rally to the cause.

Additionally, Moulton started having a desire to write the story of homesteading in and around Jackson Hole, of the people who settled there, cut the timber and built the buildings.

“I told my husband, Steve, that I had to write the story, that people had to know who settled that area,” Moulton said. “I told him, we may lose the barn and all the buildings, but at least I can help preserve the story.”

Moulton barn

www.unmpress.comMoulton’s efforts at storytelling became a book, Legacy of the Tetons. Her story of homesteading in Jackson Hole is now available in a revised, second edition, with a special section on Mormon Row and the Handcart Migration, and plenty of historic photos. Legacy of the Tetons, revised second edition is available through the University of New Mexico Press and can be purchased through their Web site at

It wasn’t just a coincidence that her husband’s family name and the barn’s name were the same. Steve Moulton’s family history is one of early settlement of Mormon Row and the Jackson Hole area.

Actually there are two Moulton barns: the Thomas Alma Moulton barn, and the John Moulton barn, both of the men brothers. T.A.’s barn is the one that caught the attention of photographers and artists, with the image appearing on calendar pages, note cards, in photo collections, and just about anywhere a photo could be reproduced. It has been photographed so many times that it has achieved celebrity status: Many simply refer to it as America’s barn.

The end result of Moulton’s work to save Mormon Row, along with the efforts of Moulton family members and many friends in the Jackson Hole area, was to change the park service’s attitude about preserving the buildings along Mormon Row.

The Moulton family between 1994 and 1996 actually did much of the restoration work on the T.A. Moulton barn, after finally receiving park permission.

 “There’s also been quite a bit done at the Chambers place, and some restoration at the John Moulton place,” she said. “Things have improved.”

Along with Legacy of the Tetons, Moulton has several other historical books to her credit, and she has won two Spur awards for writing from the Western Writers of America. Currently she serves as editor of the group’s Roundup Magazine.

Moulton was born and raised in Wyoming, as was her husband, Steve. They have two grown children, and have lived on a ranch in Encampment, WY for the last 30 years.

She has traveled on foot and by wagon train over most of the West’s emigrant trails include the Oregon, California, Mormon, Bozeman, Cherokee, Bridger, and Overland Trails, and was a writer and associate producer of “Footsteps to the West,” the orientation film at the National Historical Trails Interpretive Center in Casper, WY that was a Spur Award Finalist for Western Writers of America in 2003.

She has written and produced other film exhibits for that center, appeared in the BBC Documentary “Seven Journeys to the West” produced by Lodestar Productions in England during 2004, the “Mountain Massacre” segment for the History Channel’s “Investigating History” series produced by Bill Kurtis Productions in 2005, which won a Spur Award in 2006, and in the “Gold Rush” segment of “Ten Days that Changed America” produced by Telling Pictures for the History Channel in 2006. she also won a Spur award for her book, Chief Joseph: Guardian of the People.

“It’s good to see the Mormon Row buildings still there,” she added. “There are a lot of people who drive by, get out of their cars, take photos or just walk around the Moulton Barn. It would have been a shame to have lost it for future generations.”

Finding Mormon Row Mormon Row is east of Highway 26/89/191, one mile north of Moose Junction, inside Grand Teton National Park. The area where visitors can find Mormon Row is known as ·Antelope Flats. Along with the buildings, visitors often see bison and pronghorn grazing in spring, summer and fall. For more information on the national park, visit Grand Teton’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/grte/