Afton
Pop. 1,818, Elev. 6,134


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Named ironically for the line in a Robert Burns poem, ("Flow gently, sweet Afton") this town below the Salt Range is situated by the turbulent Swift Creek. A genuine small town, it is the central business hub of Star Valley, which was settled by pioneers from the LDS (Mormon) church in 1879. The winter of 1879-1880 was brutal, but they endured the near starvation and frigid temperatures. In the center of town, the Afton Tabernacle still stands as a monument to their fortitude. The signature Elkhorn Arch nearby, which spans Main Street, is made of over 3,000 antlers. Afton celebrated its first 100 years in 2002. Though still a dominantly agricultural community, locals have embraced tourism, which has resulted from the overflow of visitors to the Jackson and the Wind River areas. Dairy farming made the valley famous for its cheese, especially hard-to-make Swiss. Afton is probably most recently associated with being the hometown of Rulon Gardner, Greco-Roman wrestling Gold Medallist in the 2000 Summer Olympics. He was not the first Afton Gardner to gain national attention as an athlete. In 1947, Vern Gardner was named an All American basketball player, and became the MVP at college basketball’s National Invitational Tournament. Afton is near one of only three intermittent springs in the world, Periodic Spring, about 5 miles east of town. The spring is situated in a lush and craggy canyon, which the Shoshone considered a sacred healing place. It runs constantly during the spring runoff, but pulses about every 18 minutes in the late summer and fall.

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