Sheep camp

This undated photo from the Teton Valley Museum archives shows a sheep camp in the shadow of the Tetons. On the other side of the valley are the Big Holes, where Garns Mountain figures into the history of sheep in the valley, too.

If you Google Garns Mountain you can find lots of information about ATV, hiking and mountain biking trails, videos of hikes and bike rides and a plethora of details about recreating in the Big Holes.

But if you take a few steps backwards into history, you can find out how the 9,000 foot mountain got its name. A hint: It wasn’t named after anyone having a great time hiking or biking.

Garns Mountain was named for Ed Garns, who owned sheep in the area of the mountain in 1914-1915.

He, like many of the ranchers who tried to bring sheep into Teton Valley in the early part of the 20th century, lost most of his herd due to conflicts with cattlemen, according to Lalia Boone in her book, “Idaho Place Names.”

B.W. Driggs devotes Chapter 32 in his “History of Teton Valley” to “The Sheep Depredations.” In it he describes several raids by “vigilant committees” who took it upon themselves to intimidate the sheepmen.

One raid by the “20 to 27 stockmen” resulted in a $3,500 loss of “valuable bucks.” Another raid killed $4,000 in sheep. On the Jackson side of the Tetons, stockmen were responsible for killing 300 sheep being herded by Nean Christensen. Tied to a tree, he watched the culprits kill his horse, his dog and the sheep and burn his camp equipment. Luckily he got away with his life.

Think about that the next time you recreate on Garns Mountain.

Edlefsen is a volunteer at the Teton Valley Museum.

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