307-733-3141 [email protected]

Our History

History of Moose Head Ranch

Moose Head Ranch today hardly resembles the ranch originally homesteaded by Eva Topping in 1925.

The road down the hill from the office was the original highway from Yellowstone National Park to Jackson. Then the ranch consisted of buildings and cabins in the area near and above the corral and barn.

Moose Head Ranch vintage postcard

Vintage postcard from Moose Head Ranch

A gas station sat where the office is now; the laundry room overlooked the corral, and the original lodge still exists, much as it did then, between the large spruce trees across from the office. Inside, along with the usual ranch rooms, there was even a post office, as Moose Head was the town of ranch owner and manager. Elk, Wyoming. Eva Topping was the true pioneer woman: postmistress, school teacher as well as ranch owner & manager.

As she grew older, Eva Topping shouldered other burdens as well, most specifically the declining health of her husband, Fred. Eva put Moose Head on the market in the late summer of 1967. While the National Park Service was actively acquiring park land on a “willing buyer/ willing seller” basis, Eva declined their generous offer as she wanted the ranch to stay active, in private hands, and not bulldozed down and “returned to nature”, as park policy would dictate.

John Mettler had been an early visitor to the Jackson Hole area since the 1920’s, as his parents enjoyed coming West by train and then by “stage” for family summer vacations from the East Coast. The family stayed at the Bar BC Ranch north of Moose along the west bank of the Snake River. These enjoyable trips abruptly ceased when John’s sister Helen, was accidentally killed while climbing in the Tetons. John did not return to the Valley until the late 30’s, when he traveled West with roommates from college. Jackson Hole was the first place he brought his wife, Eleo, for an extended trip. Little did she know what the future held!

The Mettler family expanded to include 4 children: John III, Peter, Louise and Ellen. Everyone looked forward to late August and early September when the family came West to finish the summer with several weeks of riding and fishing in the Tetons. John Mettler always took one day out of the vacation to look at ranches, as he had a keen interest in property while cattle ranching both in New Jersey and in Tallahassee, Florida. Although Moose Head did not fit his image of a cattle ranch, one look at the spectacular views offered from the ranch property was enough to have him sealing the deal with a handshake on the spot. The Mettler family was indeed fortunate that John Mettler saw the ranch the day it came on the market.

After a year of living with the ranch in its original state, John and Eleo began to design and build the lodge and family cabins. Cabins were staked out with views from picture windows in mind. A branch of Spread Creek that runs through the ranch was used to fill trout ponds that John created. Most of the lodge was constructed during the winter of 1968-1969, often in temperatures of 40 below zero. The lodge was completed in time for the arrival of the first Mettler guests in June of 1969.

Since that year there have been renovations and additions, but Moose Head has basically remained the same. Kit and Louise Mettler Davenport helped Louise’s parents run the ranch for 20 years. Following the Mettlers’ passing they continued the management for the next 25 years until retiring. The family tradition of ranch management is now continuing with 2 of the Davenport children, Chris and Lindsay. They grew up and have worked on the ranch for many years before taking over from their parents. Eddy Edmiston lives with his wife and family on the ranch year-round. He took over the horse and property management after his parents, Dave and Cathy, retired after 23 years at Moose Head.

Entrance to Moose Head Ranch, with views of the Grand Teton mountain range

Moose Head Ranch entrance WY