Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bird's Eye View

looking West
Fall 1994

After years of anticipation and sometimes heated debate, a new high school building was constructed in Pavillion and opened its doors for students in 1994. Two rival school districts (Morton and Pavillion) were consolidated in 1969, and Wind River district was formed. To soothe ruffled feathers, the elementary and middle schools were located on the former Pavillion campus, and the high school was housed on the former Morton campus west of Kinnear. Encompassing over 1,000 square miles, Wind River district's student population (K-12) is less than 500.

In the mid 80s the school board proposed replacing the aging high school and placing the new building in Pavillion. Old community rivalries surfaced and tensions became extremely high. School board meetings about the proposed bond issue drew angry crowds, and it was common to see State Troopers and County Sheriff deputies monitoring the doors. Meetings were moved to the gymnasium when the crowds grew to over 300 people. The bond failed on the first attempt. Several years later, a second attempt narrowly passed, and the school was finally built in Pavillion.

Wind River Middle and High School
Pavillion, WY
Fall 1994

The new building, pictured above, was opened in 1994, and soon everyone wondered what caused all the fuss. As the yearbook advisor, I was anxious to document every aspect of the building. I approached the superintendent and asked if someone could take an aerial photo of the school for the yearbook. Little did I know that I would be the photographer. Several days later, the superintendent told me that a pilot and plane had been arranged for a Saturday. Early Saturday morning, I took my Minolta 35mm film camera (digital was not even an option in those days), and met the pilot at the Lander airport.

I had never taken aerial photos, so it was a real challenge. In the single engine plane, I sat behind the pilot, and prayed I could focus the lens as he tilted the plane. The pilot circled the town and school several times until I was somewhat confident I had the shots I needed.

The area around the school has changed dramatically in the last 17 years. The football field was moved to the right of the school, the preliminary ground work had been done when this photos were taken. The new field is surrounded by an all-weather, eight-lane track. The football field shown in the photo above is now the site of a new elementary school. The dirt area above the old football field is now a staff parking lot. The following image is currently posted on the school district website. It was taken by someone else during the construction of the new elementary. I would love to see a current aerial image of the entire campus.
Fall 2007

Wind River Elementary and Middle School
former Pavillion elementary, middle and high school
Pavillion, WY
Fall 1994

In 2007, this building and all of its additions were demolished and a new state-of-the-art elementary school was constructed on the old football field (shown in the top right of this photo). The old building was replaced with a playground and practice field.

Everyone in my family attended school in parts of this old building. The flat-topped addition at the top of the photo was added in 1968 and housed the elementary students and a lunchroom, full kitchen, and teacher's lounge.

The old elementary building is shown in the foreground. It was a two-story brick building with six classrooms and a storage room. It was built in 1940 or 1941. The play ground was located in the area in the bottom right of the photo. I remember two tether ball poles, a jungle gym (monkey bars), two slides (one larger than the other), two swing sets (one with rubber "U" seats and one with plank seats), two merry-go-rounds, and two teeter totters. After the new elementary addition was built, the brick building was used for high school classes. After the consolidation, the building was remodeled to accommodate the administration and board room.

The section in the center with the arched roof was built in 1948. It housed the gymnasium with a stage at one end. The classroom wing on the left of the gym contained the office and the junior high (when I was in school) and the right wing was used mainly for high school classes. North of the gymnasium was the library and a large room used for study hall. Before the new elementary addition, the lunchroom/kitchen was located under the stage and later to the right of the gymnasium.

In her book, Pavillion City, Irene Jones said, "The high school building (the center section in the photo above) was finished in 1948, most of the material having been brought down from the barracks and buildings at the Japanese Prison Camp at Hart (Heart) Mountain, near Cody, during the war years. Most of the material and work were donated."

Pavillion, Wyoming
looking southwest toward the Wind River Range
Fall 1994

I appreciate the opportunity I had to document the new school and the town of Pavillion from a bird's-eye view.


  1. What a wonderful experience you had! The pictures are wonderful. Looks very professional to me!!

  2. You did a great job for a first timer....

  3. Great story. I love the shots you got, what a great opportunity.

  4. Great pictures! It is nice to be able to document history with pictures. Great story!

  5. Lot's of good memories in the older buildings. Not so good memory thou is you with a broken leg and class on second floor with no elevator.

  6. THis took such forethought Nancy. It is the cooolerst historical look at the school!


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