In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were numerous little one- and two-room schools in the Elk-Chattaroy area.
The country schools in those early years were heated by wood stoves and lit by kerosene lamps, and several were lost to fires. Most of the towns and schools no longer exist, though some area roads bear their names.
In about 1890, Chattaroy (previously known as Kidd) had its first, one-room frame school built across from the Chattaroy sawmill. The second two-room school was built just north of the present day Chattaroy School, but it burned down. In 1892, a two-story building housed the grade and high school, but in 1935, it too burned down. The new school was built of brick as part of the Riverside School District.
East of Chattaroy, the Deer Creek School was built of logs in 1900. It burned down in 1906 and was rebuilt in 1907. West of Chattaroy, south of Deer Park was Dennison School. Both schools consolidated with Riverside School District in 1942. North of Chattaroy on Newport Highway was Bear Creek School named after Bear Creek and Bear Lake.
Continuing north on Newport Highway was the West Branch School District (named after the west branch of the Little Spokane River) The first West Branch School was about one-quarter mile north of the present Riverside Schools; the second and third were south of Elk-to-Highway Road. West Branch consolidated to Milan in 1916. Farther north on Newport Highway, at the Spokane-Pend Oreille County line was Milan Farms School No. 36. (Milan Lumber Co.’s land there was known as Milan Farms.) It consolidated to Riverside in 1942.
Camden School, a one-room frame building, opened in 1883 just west of Camden on the Pend Oreille-Spokane County boundary line. In 1920, a two-room school was built and in 1953, it consolidated with Riverside District. A family later purchased Camden School and made it a residence, which it still is today.
East of Camden, Jefferson School was open from 1880 until the mid 1930s. Southeast of Camden, the one-room Fridegar School (later called Dry Creek) consolidated to Riverside District in 1935.
The one-room Elk School built in 1902 opened in 1903. It was later made into a two-room school, then a combined grade and high school was built. It was torn down, and a new brick grade school was built as part of the Consolidated Riverside School District. More rooms were added and, over the years, the brick building has been upgraded and is now used as a residence.
The first Milan School, built in 1892, was two rooms, but burned down. In 1894, they combined a grade and high school in a two story building, but in 1935, it also burned. Milan, Elk and Chattaroy all consolidated and built new buildings in 1935.
Spring Creek School (later called Otter Creek) was built in 1900 southwest of Elk. In 1921, it was moved close to Elk-to-Highway and in 1931, it consolidated with Milan. Lincoln School, east of Elk, consolidated with Elk in 1928. The one-room Kit Carson School, built in 1900, consolidated with Riverside District in 1942.
Though a few of the old schools have survived, most are only memories. Now, Riverside School District serves all of the Elk-Chattaroy area. It consists of Chattaroy Elementary in Chattaroy and Riverside Elementary, Riverside Middle and Riverside High Schools at the original site on Newport Highway. There are several specialized programs at Riverside, too.
If you are interested in more history of northernmost Spokane County, you should visit the Pend Oreille Historical Museum in Newport. The book “Golden Memories of the Elk-Camden We Once Knew” is full of interesting facts and stories about area history. The books are available at the Historical Museum in Newport and the Elk Sentinel Office in Elk.
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