One Year: 1986

Season 3: Episode 6

The Miracle of Cokeville

How the worst school attack in U.S. history was narrowly averted.


Episode Notes

On May 16, 1986, a man with a bomb held an entire elementary school hostage in the tiny town of Cokeville, Wyoming. Instead of becoming victims of unimaginable tragedy, all of the hostages in this predominantly Mormon community survived. But how? This week, Evan Chung explores what—or who—saved the children of Cokeville.

One Year is produced by Evan Chung, Sophie Summergrad, Sam Kim, Madeline Ducharme, and Josh Levin.

Derek John is senior supervising producer of narrative podcasts and Merritt Jacob is senior technical director.

Sources for This Episode


Cokeville Miracle Foundation. Witness to Miracles: Remembering the Cokeville Elementary School Bombing, Prong Horn Press, 2006.

Wixom, Hartt and Judene Wixom. Trial by Terror: The Child-hostage Crisis in Cokeville, Wyoming, Horizon Publishers & Distributors, 1987.

Wixom, Hartt and Judene Wixom. When Angels Intervene To Save the Children: The Cokeville, Wyoming Bombing Incident, Cedar Fort, 1994.


Clark, Jessica. “Cokeville Elementary School Bombing,” WyoHistory, Nov. 8, 2014.

“Cokeville injury report,” Casper Star-Tribune, May 18, 1986.

Couple Take Over School but Die After Bomb Blast,” Associated Press, May 17, 1986.

Dodini, Dana. “‘The Cokeville Miracle’ passed on to next generation,” Daily Universe, May 12, 2015.

Hostages Freed at School; 65 Hurt by Bomb,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 1986.

Jarvik, Elaine. “​​Cokeville recollects ‘miracle’ of 1986,” Deseret News, May 15, 2006.

Kohlman, Matt. “School Firebombing a Decade Ago Is Fading Memory for Victims,” Associated Press, June 2, 1996.

Krza, Paul. “Cokeville attempts to cope with bombing aftermath,” Casper Star-Tribune, May 19, 1986.

Leary, Mike. “Terror visits quiet valley in Wyoming,” Philadelphia Inquierer, May 18, 1986.

McEntee, Peg. “Three-State Attempts To Unravel Young’s Twisted Plot,” Associated Press, May 17, 1986.

McQuay, David. “Teachers, Students Still Carry Scars of Cokeville Siege,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 26, 1987.

Mitchell, Ruth Ann. “10 Years Later, Cokeville Just Says: Let Us Be,” Deseret News, May 15, 1996.

Repanshek, Kurt J. “Wyoming town still healing a year after school bombing,” Associated Press, May 29, 1987.

Royster, Whitney. “‘Somebody was taking care of us’,” Casper Star-Tribune, May 16, 2006.

Sowers, Carol. “Pupils, teachers thought they were to get gun talk,” Arizona Republic, May 18, 1986.

Turner, Tom. “Daughter learned of Wyoming plot only on final day,” Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 2, 1986.

Warren, Catherine. “Cokeville parents grateful children alive,” Casper Star-Tribune, May 18, 1986.

Woman: Captors’ Daughter May Have Known About Plot,” United Press International, May 19, 1986.

Woolf, Jim. “Coping in Cokeville Aftermath,” Washington Post, May 18, 1986.


Cokeville Bombing Oral History


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The third season of One Year covers 1986, a year when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, the mystery of Al Capone’s vaults got solved, and a sea lion named Herschel caused chaos in Seattle.

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