The 4 Lazy F, like so many other dude ranches in Jackson Hole, can trace its roots back to the Bar BC. Families and individuals who visited the Bar BC often returned annually. Some would set their sights beyond the ranch in the Snake River bottoms and purchase parcels of property to begin their own dude operations. Both Bryant Mears and his sister, Frances Mears of the STS Ranch, as well as the Frew family first ventured to the valley to stay at the Bar BC. Bryant Mears initially chose the location for his Sun Star Ranch just south of the Bar BC because it offered the same scenic views of both river and Tetons. The Frew family saw this location as ideal for their private family ranch and purchased the property from Bryant’s brother, Edward in 1927. They transformed the property into a true dude ranch; they built sleeping cabins, a main lodge and expanded the barn and corrals for horses. Guests attended the ranch by ‘invitation-only’ from the Frew family until 1950 when it transferred to Emily Frew Oliver who opened it to paying guests.
When the Frews purchased the ranch and renamed it the 4 Lazy F, it had already been named the Sun Star Ranch. Bryant Mears filed for a 160 acre homestead claim on the property in 1914. He spent the next three years proving up on the ranch, building a log house, barn, and associated corrals. These structures became part of the working ranch, and are purposefully separate from the main lodge and sleeping cabin area. The barn faces south to provide maximum sun for light and warmth in winter. The Frews did not live here year-round, but they hired a caretaker who remained through the winter who was responsible for general ranch chores and maintenance. During the summer months the caretaker was responsible for irrigating the fields and raising enough hay to last throughout the long, cold months ahead.
#3: Entrance Gate
The view west from the entrance gate at the 4 Lazy F Ranch located near Moose offers a commanding view of the Grand Teton. This gate is about a mile down a private road past the Park Headquarters building. The ranch is named for four members of the Frew family: William and Margaretta Frew owned and operated this property as a private family ranch from 1927 to 1950. Their daughter, Emily Frew Oliver, made the decision to open the ranch up to paying guests in the summer of 1950. In 1967 Emily sold the ranch to the Grand Teton National Park under a life estate lease. The ranch finally closed to paying guests in the mid-1990s. Emily continued to invite family and friends to the ranch until 2006 when she voluntarily terminated her life estate. Property management then transferred to Grand Teton National Park.
The caretaker’s cabin, barn and corrals are considered part of the “working ranch” that was kept separate from the “residential” dude ranch. This was a common practice on most dude ranches, from which the architectural style known as “Dude Ranch Vernacular” developed. Careful consideration was given to the placement of buildings. Sleeping cabins were typically arranged in small clusters around the larger, main dining lodge. The working elements of the ranch that carried less than scenic sights and smells were kept downwind or in an adjacent location.
Someone had to remain on the property during the winter months to maintain the structures and make sure the buildings could open on time for the summer season. The caretaker was also responsible for general ranch chores such as haying, saddling and cleaning horses and maintaining the livestock. In the later years of operation, Emily Oliver’s sons would help the caretaker with these chores.
#5: Window reflection
The 4 Lazy F Dude Ranch was one of few dude ranches in the valley which catered to short-term reservations. Emily Oliver could regularly be seen outside the Moose Post Office asking tourists if they needed overnight accommodations. Generally, the minimum stay at a dude ranch was around two weeks. The 4 Lazy F offered accommodations for just one night or up to a few weeks, depending on the visitor’s needs. Just $10.00 per night included meals and “double bedroom cabins with bathrooms and electricity”. In “Season 1” (July 1 to September 30) Ranch activities included “riding, swimming, fishing along streams or boat fishing on the Snake River”. Pack trips to Yellowstone National Park could also be arranged. (“Dude Ranches Out West” published by the Union Pacific Railroad, c.1960).
From Our Archives:
4 Lazy F Front Gate (Photographer: Olie Riniker)
4 Lazy F Barn and Coral (Photographer: Olie Riniker)