AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Victor
Monday, August 15, 2016
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
The city of Victor lies near the Idaho/Wyoming border at the southwestern edge of the Grand Teton National Park and the famous Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming.
Even though the view of the eastern side of the Teton Mountains is more famous, the view from the west of the13 peaks that rise over 12,000 feet with the tallest, the Grand Teton, rising to 13,771 feet, is also stunning. People in Victor and the Teton Valley call the western side, the "quiet side of the Tetons."
The Caribou-Targhee National Forest and the Big Hole Mountain Range—rising to over 9,000 feet—lie to the west and south of the city.
When viewed just outside the city limits, the surrounding foothills of pine, fir and quaking aspen forests with the high mountains in the background take the breath away. A person should not drive in this area without stopping for a moment to behold the gorgeous portrait that nature has provided.
For centuries, Native American Indians frequented the area around what is now Victor during their summer encampments. Beginning in the early 1800s, European, Canadian and American fur trappers began coming into the area.
Some fur traders followed the practice of having annual mountain rendezvous at various locations as opposed to permanent trading posts. In 1829 and 1832 fur trader’s set up rendezvous in the low-lying, beaver-rich Teton Valley near what is now Driggs. They named the location Pierre’s Hole, after one of the trapper-traders.
In 1888 the first known settlers, Gideon & Alice Murphy, moved their family from Lyman, Wyoming, into the area of what is now Victor. Several other families moving up from Cache Valley, Utah, soon followed them. They were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)—converts and emigrants from Great Britain, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Germany. They knew the 6,200-foot-high elevation and harsh winters of the Teton Valley could be a challenge. However, they felt the beauty of the area and the availability of land, irrigation water and timber would more than compensate.
Indeed, the life of the first settlers required considerable physical and emotional strength to survive. They had to build diversion dams on the creeks that were head-waters to the Teton River and dig irrigation canals and ditches by hand and horse-drawn plows and scrapers. The early log cabins of dirt floors, drafty walls, leaky roofs and leather-hinged doors required a special endurance.
On the other hand, their crops did well and animal reproduction was high. They augmented their food supply with wild game and berries on the land and fish in the streams. Berries do well at the south end of Teton Valley; fruit trees do not. For this reason alone, a child finding an orange in his or her stocking at Christmas time considered it a real treat.
For several years until a flourmill and sawmill were built, supplies, such as flour, came in on freight wagons.
The immigrants located in four communities that were in near proximity to each other. They named their settlements Trail Creek, Fox Creek, Chapin and Cedron. Together, they comprised a village and ward (ecclesiastical unit). They wanted to name their broader community Raymond—out of respect for the bishop of their ward, David Raymond Sinclair—and apply for a post office.
However, when they applied, U.S. postal authorities rejected the name of Raymond as it was already in use. Upon re-evaluation, community leaders selected the name of Victor—in recognition of Claud Victor, a mail carrier who devotedly carried the mail on his back through rain or snow as he traveled between Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the south end of Teton Valley. Postal authorities approved creation of the Victor Post Office.
On January 2, 1896, Victor became an incorporated village. In that same year, Ben (Grandpa) Jones built Victor’s first hotel. The greatest challenge for the new village was fighting fires and providing an adequate water system, streets and cemetery.
The 1832 rendezvous at Pierre's Hole, one of the largest held, included several hundred mountain men, trappers and Indians. The fur companies bartered whisky, tobacco and supplies for furs.
The 1832 rendezvous turned deadly when about 100 departing fur trappers and some of their Indian allies encountered a tribe of several hundred Gros Ventre Indians, a Blackfoot Indian Tribe, traveling about eight miles south of Pierre’s Hole near what is now Victor. Two of the Indians traveling with the trappers killed a Gros Ventre chief who came to parley. A fierce battle ensued with numerous deaths on both sides. The battle ended with the remaining Gros Ventre men, women and children escaping quietly into the night.
Amenities and Attractions Today
The city has four city parks located in total on 25 acres.
The city’s most significant attraction is its scenic location. The nearby Targhee National Forest allows outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy backpacking, fishing, mountain biking and hunting, while providing exquisite vistas for those who just want to take hikes and enjoy the wildlife and lush scenery.
For those who love winter activities, Victor is within 27 miles of prominent downhill ski resorts. The Grand Targhee Resort is across the state border just west of Driggs. Other ski resorts are near Teton Village and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There are several groomed cross-country ski trails throughout Teton County, some of which start within the city limits.
One prominent homegrown amenity has become a popular attraction over its four decade history. Pierre’s Playhouse is a family run dinner playhouse open Thursday through Saturday from mid-June to Labor Day. It combines an all-you-can-eat Dutch-oven dinner with melodrama plays depicting life in the 1890s.