Third Annual John Colter Day Observed

Colter Stone artifact
August 16, 2010
The third annual John Colter Day will be held Wednesday, August 18, at the Colter Bay Visitor Center and Indian Arts Museum. Colter explored the greater Yellowstone area during the winter of 1807-08, and was likely the first European to travel the region. Colter Bay, on the northeast shore of Jackson Lake, is named in his honor. To highlight this historical figure, Grand Teton National Park will offer programs during the week, including demonstrations of the lives of mountain men of the 1800’s, discussions on John Colter’s contributions to the exploration of the American West, and tipi demonstrations.

John Colter Day Highlights include:
Colter Stone on Display
The Colter Stone will be displayed at the Colter Bay Visitor Center from August 15 through August 20. The stone—which is on loan from the Teton Valley Historical Museum in Driggs, Idaho— is a piece of rhyolite lava rock carved in the shape of a human head and engraved with the name John Colter, and the year 1808. Discovered in Tetonia, Idaho in 1933, the stone, if authentic, represents the only solid proof of the route followed by trapper and explorer John Colter. The Colter Stone remains a fascinating piece of the puzzle of Colter’s pioneering sojourn through this region. As member of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition from 1804 to 1806, Colter was given an early discharge from the Corps of Discovery. He set out on his own from a fur trapping fort in present-day southern Montana and headed south to present-day Cody, Wyoming. On his return, he passed through what is now Yellowstone National Park. The middle section of his journey is a matter of speculation; one theory indicates he traveled via Togwotee Pass, while the other commonly held view traces Colter’s route through Jackson Hole, over Teton Pass and along the west side of the Teton Range. No evidence exists to substantiate either route, and the only sources of information are vague accounts and maps from interviews with Colter after his return.

Wednesday August 18
9 a.m. – Tipi Demonstration
Join Ranger Laine Thom behind the Colter Bay Visitor Center for a 45-minute program demonstrating the basic structure that the Plains Indians called home.
10 a.m. – The Story of the Colter Stone
Ranger Naturalist Dan Greenblatt will detail the legend and history of this fascinating artifact in the Colter Bay Auditorium.
2:30 p.m. – John Colter: Mountain Man Superhero
Dr. Barbara Mueller, professor of anthropology at Casper College, will discuss the life of John Colter, widely considered to be the first mountain man of the American West. Presentation in the Colter Bay Auditorium.
7 p.m. – The Life of a Mountain Man
Join Ranger Andrew Langford as he re-creates the rugged life of a mountain man, enduring brutal winters and physical dangers in unmapped West during the 1800s. Presentation at the Colter Bay Amphitheatre.

For more information about John Colter Day events, please call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 739.3594.