TOUR OF THE ROCKIES, DAY 3
September 7, 2017
From Jackson, Wyoming
JACKSON AND AFTON: ELK ANTLER HAVENS
The “Cokeville Miracle”
Well, we made it today to Jackson, Wyoming, one of the most interesting little towns in America. We spent a week here five years ago, so it was nice to refresh some old memories and make some new ones.
But before we got to Jackson, we made two other stops. One was forced, another voluntary.
The Cokeville Stopover
The forced stop was in Cokeville, Wyoming, a small town of about 500 residents, close to the tri-border point between Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. While chris-crossing these state borders, a warning light showed up on the car’s dashboard, warning of a low tire pressure.
I checked the pressure at the Cokeville gas station and could not find anything wrong. I added some air though just for a good measure.
“We’ll have to have a Honda dealer check it out in Jackson,” said to Elizabeth. That’s where we were planning to spend the night.
Little did we know at the time that 31 years ago, this tiny town of Cokeville became a national and even world headline news. The event that took on May 16, 1986 place is now known as the “Cokeville Miracle.” Even a movie has been made about it.
Here’s a Wikipedia story about it:
THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE
The Cokeville Elementary School hostage crisis occurred on Friday, May 16, 1986 when former town marshal David Young, 43, and his wife Doris Young, 47, took 136 children and 18 adults hostage at Cokeville Elementary School.
David Young entered the school with his wife transporting a large gasoline-filled device that appeared to be a bomb. The couple corralled a large group of students and teachers into a single classroom. David Young attached the bomb trigger to his wrist and threatened the group that he might, at any time, move his arm and ignite the bomb.
After a two-and-a-half hour standoff, the children were becoming restless, so the teachers (in this largely Mormon community) led them in prayer. The praying appeared to make David Young agitated and he decided to leave the room. (He went to the restroom, according to the official Wyoming history).
Before leaving the room, David Young attached the bomb’s detonation device to his wife’s wrist.
When the children became increasingly loud, Doris Young began begging the teachers to settle the group down. At one point she lifted her arm sharply and the bomb went off prematurely, injuring Doris Young while David Young was out of the room. Returning to the scene, David Young shot his wife, then himself. All the hostages escaped, though 79 were later hospitalized with burns and injuries.
The Afton Stopover
The voluntary stopover was in Afton. Like Jackson, Afton also also uses thousands of elk antlers to make an artistic impression.
This is also where Elizabeth discovered a quilt shop which became the #1 highlight for her of the entire trip. She bought some fabrics there and got inspirations for several nature-forest themed quilts.
Here are some photos from that stopover.
Back in Jackson
When we finally arrived in Jackson, the sweltering heat from which we were trying to get away in Arizona was still with us. The tmep
Still, after three days on the road, it was good to stretch our legs. We went out for a long walk which included a visit to a world-famous Mangelsen gallery of nature photos. Elizabeth has already painted some of them, such as a snow-whipped bison we saw during our first visit there in 2012.
Since this time the surrounding mountains are enveloped in smoke from the forest fires all over the western US, thought you may appreciate the beauty of nature here on clear days. So I took some photos of the photos.
Here are some other photos from this afternoon, including an early dinner at Gun & Barrel, arguably the best restaurant in Jackson. We also ate there back in 2012 and can attest for a second time to its quality of food and wonderful authentic western ambiance.
ELK ANTLER ARCHES – DON’T WORRY, IT’S ALL GOOD
By the way, all of you animal lovers, don’t get alarmed at the sight of all those thousands of elk antlers in the city arches at Jackson and Afton. About 7,500 elk spend their winters here. In the spring, the bulls (male elk) shed their antlers. The local boy scouts collect them for a fund-raising public auction which is held each year.
The antlers you see here in that arch over Elizabeth in the Jackson town center have been built by the Jackson Rotary Club.
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