Floating Through History: Uncovering Stories Behind Scenic Rafting on the Upper Snake River

Explore the history of commercial, scenic rafting on the Upper Snake River and the new collaborative exhibition Floating Through History: Uncovering Stories Behind Scenic Rafting on the Upper Snake River. The exhibit is presented with Dr. Yolonda Youngs at California State University San Bernardino, Grand Teton National Park, and Snake River Fund. It is also made possible through a grant from Wyoming Humanities. 

The new installation features historical photographs, artifacts, first-hand accounts from long-time rafting legends, and an interactive Snake River model raft experience.

“We all play on the Snake River, whether it’s on paddle boards, rafts, walks along the dike, or many other activities. The Snake has been a defining feature of our community for so long. This exhibit highlights the people and river technologies that paved the way to so much of what we experience and enjoy in Jackson Hole today.” 

JHHSM Executive Director Morgan Jaouen

Based on Dr. Yolonda Youngs’ collaborative research with Grand Teton National Park, viewers are first invited to connect to the river with a brief history of the Snake, as well as the scope of Dr. Youngs’ academic work focused on commercial, scenic rafting on the Upper Snake River. Viewers then meet many of the people and places key to early scenic rafting on the Upper Snake. 

The third section of the exhibition delves into the technical innovations started right here in Jackson Hole including the Snake River Model raft designed by Dick Barker, Frank Ewing, and Dave Demaree and first produced by Rubber Fabricators in 1965. Next, the exhibition outlines conservation efforts to steward the Snake and the current scenic, commercial operators still running the Upper Snake.

Finally, guests can get on the river with a life-size interactive Snake River Model boat and River Lingo station. 

“Just like any good river expedition, this exhibition owes so much to our partners and community members who co-created it with us from an initial charrette to outline the ideas; to sharing years of academic research; to loaning us oars, photos and river gear; and financially supporting the exhibition design and fabrication. We’re so grateful for every contribution.”

JHHSM Communications Director Kirsten Corbett and exhibition team member

An upcoming talk with Dr. Yolonda Youngs on July 10, a Beers & Banter speakers’ program on July 20, and an Explore River History Summer Camp from July 24-28 for Grades 5-8 will encourage viewers to dig in and meet some of the many river legends in our community. 
Floating Through History will be on display at the JHHSM during regular hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm, through November 4, 2023.