April 13, 1940, was not a Friday, but it could have been. That’s the date of what some have described as Victor’s most disastrous fire.
“The worst fire and Victor’s greatest single economic loss was the limestone school building fire in 1940,” according to a Victor history compilation by Michael Holmes.
He said it was more tragic than the Robertson store fire in 1919, the Nelson-Ricks Cheese Factory in 1922, the Jack Bressler Pool Hall in 1958, the Tonks Brothers garage in 1963 and the Victor Hotel the same year.
The fire totaled the rock school building, which also served, as schools often do, as the center for community’s social life and activities.
Though people tried to save some of the contents very little was rescued. The value of the building was set at $50,000 and it was insured for just $12,000, but the townspeople quickly got a grip on the problem and rebuilt the school.
School was canceled for the rest of the 1939-1940 school term and nine teachers were temporarily out of work. According to Holmes, the Victor High School students produced the best yearbook that year, lamenting the demise of the school, which now lives on only in the memory.
The fire resulted in the high school being merged with the one in Driggs.
Visit the Teton Valley Museum to see yearbooks from the early days and other historical highlights.