Cunningham Cabin

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 (40 ha) of hay, later irrigating another 140 acres (57 ha) 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 (230 ha). 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.


The cabin is a sod-roofed double-pen or dog-trot style building with a room on either side of the central breezeway or "dog-trot." The form is Appalacian in origin. No nails or metal fastenings were used int he cabin's construction. The cabin was reconstructed in 1956, resetting the wall logs after replacing the sill logs and rebuilding the roof. The logs are saddle-V-notched at the corners. The site comprises 10 acres (4.0 ha), including the cabin, 1890 house site, fort site, barn site, bunkhouse and outbuildings sites, as well as pits that may have been wells or privies. The cabin measures about 41.5 feet (12.6 m) by 15.25 feet (4.65 m). Two rooms both open into the breezeway, each room with two windows facing northeast and southwest. The south room was the living quarters, the north was used as a forge.

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