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Jackson's Elk Antler Arches

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Leaving aside personal taste, it's impossible to deny the impressiveness of the Elk Antler Arches that frame the Town Square of Jackson Hole.  These imposing landmarks, one of which stands at each corner of George Washington Memorial Park, the official name of the square, have been instantly recognizable Jackson icons for more than a half century.


The Town Square was established in 1932, when the local Rotary Club planted trees in the center of Jackson.  Different sources cite different dates when the first arch was constructed on the southwest corner of the square at the intersection of Broadway and Cache.  The plaques at each arch, placed by the National Elk Refuge, cite 1960, but The Jackson Hole Historical Society documents their having been built in 1953 or 1958 by a number of prominent members of the Rotary Club of Jackson Hole, which still maintains them.  Considering the number of antlers involved and the time needed to collect them, the truth probably lies somewhere over that time span.


As with most things, the decades took their toll, and in the summer of 2007, the weathered southwest arch was dismantled and rebuilt with fresh antlers.  In order to finance the new arch, the original arch was put up for public auction, with relocation and reassembly included anywhere in Jackson Hole.  Initial estimates anticipated proceeds of between $14,000 and $20,000, but when the gavel came down on May 19th, a local hotel had acquired a new entrance for $51,000.  Two of the other arches have since been rebuilt.


If you're a DIY type and would like to have such an arch for your very own, you'll need about 2,000 antlers weighing in at around 7,000 to 10,000 pounds.  Give or take, prime antlers go for around $10 a pound, so the math is fairly easy.  Frame, scaffolding and labor extra.


Two questions come to mind here.  The one that bothered me was how many elk it took to build one of those arches.  The answer is none; elk naturally shed their antlers in late fall and early winter.  The other is how all those antlers make their way to the right place.  Find out in our May 15th blog, "Elkfest is Here!"



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