Elgin Schoolhouse (1922-1967)

The Elgin Schoolhouse, located in eastern Nevada, provided an education for several generations of school children in grades one through eight from 1922 through 1967.  It was built by Reuben Bradshaw, the son of James Bradshaw, whom homesteaded a ranch in 1880 at the lower end of Rainbow Canyon.  Until 1903, there weren’t a large numbers of children in the area until the Salt Lake, San Pedro, and Los Angeles Railroad was built through Rainbow Canyon.  Small communities then sprung up every five miles or so, wherever there was a “siding” – a stop for trains and passengers.  Some of the larger sidings were home to small depots were passengers could board or leave the train or get a hot meal.

Prior to the construction of the Elgin Schoolhouse, the closest school to the ranches in Rainbow Canyon, the nearest school was in Panaca, about 36 miles north of Elgin.  Since wagons were the only means of transportation, and the ranches were too far away from Panaca to transport the children for school each day, the children were home-schooled either at the individual ranches or neighboring ranches.  The “Bullionville” school district was established in 1890 about five miles below Kershaw Canyon, but this school was still too far away for wagons from the lower end of Rainbow Canyon.

The Elgin Schoolhouse

The Elgin Schoolhouse

In 1921, funds were available for a schoolhouse in Elgin, one of the larger sidings along the railroad.  James Bradsha donated seven acres of his ranch for the building and his son built the school.  An addition to the building was built two years later to provide a small apartment for the teacher to live in.

The schoolhouse was last used in 1967, when the last student reached the eighth grade.  By then, school buses had been picking up the students and transporting them to schools in Panaca and Caliente.

It became a State Historic Site in July 2005 and is part of the Nevada State Parks system.  Currently, the schoolhouse is closed to the public for an indeterminate period of time as of May 2008 due to the road being heavily damaged by flooding.  It is possible to drive the road to the school (though it is rough in spots and there is one small water crossing).


Until the next adventure….


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