Moving to Wyoming: Homesteading in Teton Valley

Two couples share what they learned when moving to Wyoming to set up homesteading in Teton Valley. Learn why this area of the state is considered a great choice to make when homesteading in rural Wyoming.

| July/August 1987

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    The Hansens use the wind and sun to make their own electricity.

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Two couples over the hill (from Jackson) adapting without compromise after moving to Wyoming. 

Moving to Wyoming: Homesteading in Teton Valley

At first glance into Teton Valley, it's easy to think, "This place has seen better times." There doesn't appear to be much going on. For entertainment, there's one movie screen, the Spud Drive-In, and it's closed half the year. Looking closer though, it's apparent that, despite recent lean times, there's no fear in the air. Kids wobble their bikes down the main highway without a care. Mention drugs, and people think of sulfa. If Teton Valley wants to lay a claim to fame, it was the Pea Capital of the World—80 years ago.

For the past 15 years, Teton Valley has attracted more than its share of persons looking for rural lifestyles. And not only because it's low key. It's privy to the world-famous Teton skyline and all the other natural attributes of Jackson Hole (which sits about 30 miles on the other side of the range) but to none of the hustle-bustle.

Paul and Mary Lou Hansen

Ignoring every mother's advice, Paul Hansen picked up a hitchhiker. The rider passed on a rumor about cheap land "over the hill," local vernacular for Teton Valley. Just for the heck of it, Paul and his new bride, Mary Lou, drove over Teton Pass to take a look. The land was five miles from the nearest paved road. Tillable Idaho soil under a huge sky, a former farm subdivided into 10-acre lots.

The terms: $850 per acre, no money down, $100 per month at 9%. Come what may, the Hansens figured they could always scrape together the $100 payment. They bought the land without having any other plans.

That was 1977, a time when, Paul admits, "We were pretty naive." Paul and Mary Lou were prototypical ski bums living in a trailer in Jackson. In an attempt at cottage industry, he made jerky and she grew sprouts.

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