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For week ended August 08, 1999 Posted 8 Aug 1999

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Comment period on Mormon Row extended

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Comment period on Mormon Row extended
Billings MT Gazette 2Aug99 C7
By Ann Rick Sumers

An LDS historical site is threatened by continuing weather and neglect, but may be saved by a National Park Service plan, according to Ann Rick Sumers, of the New Jersey Children's Museum. Sumers urges members of the Church, in a letter to the editor of the Deseret News, to send their comments on the site to the Park Service during its public comment period.

The site in question is called Mormon Row, a small town located in what is now the Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone National Park. The town was built starting around 1896, growing to include 17 homesteads, a school and a church before closing in the 1950s when the Park Service created Grand Teton. Today, only the Chambers Ranch and the Moulton Barn remain of the town. And these buildings are very fragile and are deteriorating rapidly.

The Park Service's plan, called "Alternative 5" would make the buildings into an 'interpretive site,' where visitors could get guided walks, interpretation and bicycle tours, as well as an occasional historic life skill demonstration by a costumed ranger. Fortunately, the Park Service has extended its public comment period until September 13th. During this period the Service is seeking comments from those interested in the site.

"The buildings on the Chambers place are of tremendous interest historically. In spite of their fragile and deteriorating condition, a walk among the buildings and outlying fields gives an almost tangible feel for how life must have been for the homesteaders. The buildings are a time capsule capturing the essence of the work and care that went into ranching in the early days - a rare opportunity to walk back in time." says Teton Historical Society historian and preservationist Jo Ann Byrd.

Sumers ends her letter pleading for LDS Church members and others interested to save the town, "I hope that this ranch will be preserved by the National Park Service for the generations to come, to understand the hardships of our pioneer ancestors and to realize the enormous difficulties the previous generations overcame."

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