This past June marks the 100th anniversary for the final painting touches, two months later than expected, on the second oldest building in Rangely — the school house located at the Rangely Museum.
The school house was a replacement for a 19-year-old log school building that was found burning at 8 a.m. on April 10, 1911.
The cause of the fire is in in dispute, but one common account is that it was caused by a dispute between cattle and sheep men.
The school was apparently fenced in and was reached by two gates. This would suggest there were two fences but no photograph of the school has been found to prove this.
As early as 1888, some White River cattle men threatened any Utah sheep men coming into Colorado. But in 1911, and for many later years, there were no permanent sheep people in the in the Rangely area.
Any sheep people at this time would have been transients from Utah. The most direct route would be to go southeast and cross the White Rive where the present eastern Rangely bridge is located. This would have ben several blocks east of the school location.
The only other reasonable route would be to cross the White (a bridge then) about 12 miles west of Rangely and take the river road eastward into Rangely.
A second possible cause for the fire, according to the last surviving grandson of Charles Hefley, is that it was deliberately set by Hefley (on whose land the school was located) because of a dispute between he and the school board.
The nature of this dispute, if any, is unknown. On the school board were president John Kenney (the grandfather of Kenneth Kenney), secretary Rosa Rector (the grandmother of Cheryl Robertson) and T.J. Divine (whose wife, Cora ,was the half sister of Rosa’s husband, Jim).
A third possible cause for the fire, held at first but soon discarded, is that it was a defective flue in the fireplace. A possibility, that it was a natural fire, as far as it is known, has not been suggested. However, the general consensus is that the fire was deliberate and the Hefley family story seems the most likely.
The first location of this school and into the late Forties was where the office of the Adora Inn is now located. It had been moved several times before its present and final resting place.
Pay homage to this aging 100-year-old beauty by visiting her at the museum.