Grand Valley Rural School

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Our Story

Rural School History

In the 1930's, more than 4,100 one-room schools were operating in South Dakota.  The Grand Valley School was the 12th rural school to open in Lincoln County. Children started school when they were about 6 years old and continued from first to eighth grade.  

Subjects taught were: spelling, reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, and grammar.  Later history and government were added.  Art and music were also a part of Friday classes.  The day began at 9:00 am and ended at 4:00 p.m.


At first the school year was only 5 months in length; 3 months in the winter and 2 months in the summer.  

Beginning in 1940 all schools were required to have classes for 9 months.

Teachers' salaries ranged from $20 a session to about $26 a month but did increase as years went by.

The Grand Valley School was built during 1882 and the first classes were held in 1883.  The school closed around 1972.  It is one of the last county schools standing in Lincoln County, and a reminder of what used to be.  

Most of the county's 90 rural schools have been torn down, moved, or converted into chicken sheds, garages, or homes.  A group of historically minded individuals wanted to make sure such a fate didn't lie ahead for this school, located six miles southwest of Canton.  Julian Holter of rural Canton bought the Grand Valley property for the historical society, an organization formed in 1973.

Rural School Historical Society's Grand Valley Site

Our Rural School Historical Site is a white, one room schoolhouse that sits on a Lincoln County county road.  It looks much the same as it did a century ago.  The site includes: two outhouses, swings, a slide, and a merry-go-round.  In the mind's eye it is easy the see all the kids playing in the school yard.  The voices seem to ring even now with the sounds of "pum-pum-pull-away" or "duck, duck, goose" or "I send". But, alas, those days are gone.

Who Are We?

Thanks to the vision of a few progressive individuals, the Rural School Historical Society was formed in 1973 to preserve the one-room school known as Grand Valley School District #12, as a representative of rural schools in Lincoln County.  It also preserves all available school record and personal mementos as an example of early elementary education that influenced the lives of people and learning in the pioneer era as well as the later years until the consolidation of schools.

This website was created by Ben Bengston.  All photos and information from this website are property of Grand Valley Rural School.

Copyright 2018.