Candy Moulton: Let’s Preserve Wyoming

Columnist Candy Moulton writes, "This is Historic Preservation Month in Wyoming. It took 15 years to put my grandmother's cabin back together and restore it. Now it is sturdy and strong once again. A place for family gatherings and making memories."

Candy Moulton

May 22, 20245 min read

Candy moulton 4 16 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

This is Historic Preservation Month in Wyoming – a time when we should all take a look around and help save a historic property. There are so many that need protection:

The Coal Tipple in Aladdin - Built between 1888 and 1895, the wooden tipple once served a vital role in coal mining in the region.

Green River’s Carnegie Library – Dedicated in 1907.

Buildings at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston.

The list could go on and on.

I’ve had a hand in preserving two historic structures. One is significant and important mainly for my family. The other – also significant to my family – is world-renowned.

First, Saving Grandma’s Cabin

As noted in the first column I wrote for this space in April, my grandmother came to America from Belgium as a homesteader’s bride. The two-room cabin she moved into – and where she had all 12 of her children – had been built by her first husband, starting in 1893.

By 2004 the cabin had seen better days. The wooden floor in it was rotted away, the bottom logs also were rotting, mainly because they were in the dirt, positioned only on four small flat rocks.

A reservoir break that caused a flood to sweep down the small creek by the cabin, caused further damage. The wall of water that hit the cabin jostled the walls enough that the old logs – that were covered with a sod roof – had collapsed leaving the interior open to the elements.

Then, ranch workers had used a tractor to push in one corner of the cabin to get a big piece of equipment through a too-narrow gate opening.

As a result, this cabin was pretty much a wreck when I asked the ranch manager if I could have it. When he said yes, I had to get Steve and other family members to jack it up, put it on a trailer, and move it a mile and a half up the road to our property.

It took 15 years to put it back together and restore it. Now it is sturdy and strong once again. A place for family gatherings and making memories. 

  • Moulton cabin 5 21 24
    (Cowboy State Daily Staff)
  • Moulton cabin 2 5 21 24
    (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Saving An Icon of Jackson Hole

The other personal historic preservation project I’ve been involved with is a place that is called the most photographed barn in the country. It was built by Steve’s grandfather T. A. Moulton, and his father Harley and Uncle Clark.

Construction started in 1912 and the barn was fully completed in 1932. It served an important purpose on the T. A. Moulton homestead – as protection for the family livestock. It was once a setting for a scene in the classic film “Spencer’s Mountain” where Henry Fonda milked the Moulton’s cow (well, Uncle Clark taught him enough about milking that he at least looked like he was milking the cow.)

Since the 1960s this barn has been photographed by thousands of people. They flock to the Mormon Row area of Grand Teton National Park before dawn each day to catch the early morning light as it touches the tip of the Grand Teton and then bathes the weathered wood of the barn in a soft glow.

During the winter of 1993-94, the roof on the north side lean-to on the T.A. Moulton Barn, began sagging under the weight of heavy snow. By spring we realized the lean-to and possibly the barn itself was in danger of complete collapse. 

  • Moulton barn 5 21 24
    (Cowboy State Daily Staff)
  • Moulton barn cars 5 21 24
    (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

That May, I contacted Shelia Bricher-Wade at the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and asked how we could preserve the barn. At the time the National Park Service was not too interested in preserving old settler building, but with Shelia’s help and a lot of determination by the Moulton family, we got permission from NPS to undertake restoration work.

We made preliminary plans over Memorial weekend that year and during the Labor Day weekend more than 100 family members joined together to shore up the barn. The youngest was a nephew, who was just weeks old; the oldest was Uncle Clark who’d helped build the barn.

The work we did that year (and additional work in subsequent projects) means that barn is still standing – still a magnet for photographers.

As you look around your corner of Wyoming, I’m certain historic organizations, families, and individuals have done their part to preserve similar heritage sites. To those who have, I say “Thank you, and keep up the good work.”

Let me know about your work and successes in historic preservation – and let me know about those structures that are at risk in your neighborhood. By shining a light on this work – and the need for diligence – we can save Wyoming’s heritage.

Candy Moulton can be reached at

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Candy Moulton

Wyoming Life Columnist

Wyoming Life Columnist