Looking Back

Two firemen are silhouetted on the porch of the old Wilson Hotel, which was set ablaze by the Wilson Fire Department in June 1976 at the request of its owners, Warren and Helen Robertson. The old hotel was once owned by “Uncle Nick” Wilson, after whom the town was named. “We got a lot of good practice from it, said Wilson Fire Chief Wally Johnson. “But we all kind of hated to see it go.”

45 years ago ...

• The Jackson Elks Club had a benefit dinner to aid the people of southeast Idaho after the 300-foot-high Teton Dam on the Teton River crumbled, disgorging 260,000 acre-feet of water that knocked down houses, carried away mobile homes and swallowed herds of cattle. Six people died and more than 150 were missing. The dam wasn’t old. Construction began in 1971.

• Malcolm Wallop, who was running for U.S. Senate, and his wife, Judy, were among the guests at the St. John’s Hospital Auxiliary’s 18th annual Spring Fling, held at Jackson Lake Lodge, The event raised $6,500 for new operating room lights and possibly new ovens for the hospital’s kitchen.

• Jackson Hole Ski Club Nordic coach Peter Ashley took seven Nordic skiers to Grand Targhee for an on-snow training session with members of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.

• The Wilson Fire Department burned down the Wilson Hotel, one of the oldest buildings in the valley, at the request of the owners, Warren and Helen Robertson. The hotel, once owned by “Uncle Nick” Wilson, for whom the town was named, was beyond repair.

• William Conrad, star of the TV detective show “Cannon,” was in Jackson Hole to fish.

30 years ago ...

• A fire gutted Jack Dennis’ Sports and the adjoining Craft Store on Town Square in the 18th in a string of arsons. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol and Fire Arms planned to aid Jackson police with an investigation of the 19-month series of fires.

• Yellowstone research biologist Rick Hutchinson and a crew of helpers hauled 1,815 coins, numerous sticks, stones, a sunglass lens, an outhouse-door hinge, a .22-caliber cartridge and a plastic toy boat out of Morning Glory Pool to keep the geyser from losing its color, vitality and perhaps even its life. Over the years visitors had tossed pennies and other things into the 8-yard-wide circular pool, not realizing they were destroying it.

• Teton County School Superintendent Tom Cusack resigned to take the top job in a school district in Cook County, Illinois.

• Julie Moyer, president of the student body, gave the welcome address at the commencement for the class of 1991. All 101 students, including three foreign-exchange students, graduated.

•Jackson’s Lane Hutchings and Jodi Tafoya led the valley’s cowboys and cowgirls at the Jackson Hole rodeo grounds, where 75 riders and ropers from around the state competed at the only local high school rodeo of the season.

15 years ago ...

• Law enforcement officials felt “snake bit” by residents who criticized the bust of a party up the Gros Ventre River Road that resulted in the arrests of 23 minors. Besides the potential for drunk driving accidents, Teton County Sheriff Bob Zimmer said, the teens were at risk of alcohol poisoning and sexual assault. “I think there is a silent majority out there who believes that what we did was appropriate and that it possibly saved a life,” he said.

• Seventeen students from Fred Staehr‘s first math class surprised him when he walked into his classroom and found them sitting at desks. They wanted to celebrate him as he prepared to retire after teaching math and coaching skiing, basketball and football in Jackson schools for 40 years. “I think most of us who love math love it because of Fred Staehr,” said past student Patti Randall.

• Yvon Chouinard and Craig Matthews, co-founders of 1% for the Planet, came to town to help launch Jonathan Schechter’s 1% for the Tetons project, which was enlisting businesses to contribute 1 percent of their annual revenue to a fund that would support sustainability efforts in Jackson Hole.

• For the third year in a row, Megan Gerety and Elizabeth Logan won the women’s team event at the Skinny Skis Run N Ride for the Cure, a bike and running race that benefited the St. John’s Medical Center Cancer Patient Support Fund.

— Jennifer Dorsey

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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