In the West, when a territory chose statehood, the federal government deeded land to the new state. This land was bound in a state trust to be leased or used to generate income for public education, state government, and other public needs.

In order to deed school trust lands uniformly, the federal government generally gave states two square miles per every 36 miles of land. A square mile is called a section. A township makes up 36 sections, or 36 square miles. States received two sections in each township as part of the land trust mandated to serve the public beneficiaries in perpetuity.

The two school sections in Grand Teton National Park illustrate this distribution of two land sections per township. Wyoming became a state in 1890. At this time, the school lands were deeded throughout Wyoming, and the state’s school trust formed. Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929 and the boundaries were finalized by 1950. Since the state school trust lands fell within the new boundaries, they became inholdings within the park.

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