Goodsprings, is an area steeped in rich Nevada history. From its legendary significance as one of the most productive mining towns in the U.S., to the modern day fame of having been featured in the game Fallout: New Vegas, it seems that the sparsely populated community has the potential for becoming a household name. It’s the town’s elementary school, though, that commands one of the biggest historical draws to the area.
A Legend of Its Own
The Goodsprings Elementary School had a history even before its final structure was built. After all, children had to attend school someplace, between the beginning of the mining boom and 1913 when the actual building was erected. So, they gathered in a tent and were instructed there by Miss Winifred Hardy.
Goodsprings Elementary was built with only one room at first, which ended up costing around $2,000 to finish. When 1916 rolled around, additional construction added two more rooms for a little over $2,300. It was during this time that the population was quickly expanding, due to the war effort and discoveries of mass ore deposits.
The structure has since become the oldest Clark County school to have been built as a school and actually remained in use for that purpose to this day. It should be noted that it isn’t the oldest standing school in Goodsprings, however it is the oldest school that is still in use; the other went out of commission when a new school was constructed.
A solemn remembrance of the 1950s, history would document the students of Goodsprings Elementary standing outside of the school, watching the mushroom clouds from American nuclear bomb testing rise over the horizon of Potosi Mountain. Their eyes were protected by celluloid 3D glasses, and their blood was tested. The Army gave them dog tags to wear; they were told it was safe. Over the years, there were several accounts of medical conditions which alluded to the fact that this was not so.
Not Much Has Changed
The design of the building started out as a long rectangular structure with tall windows lining each side of it. It was a simple school, sitting just a stone’s throw from the nearby rolling hills. It was constructed of timber and had a bell tower, allowing one lucky student to toll the opening of school every morning.
Fortunately for those who like intact history, the school has changed very little since its initial construction in 1913. Yes, additional rooms were added three years after it was built, but otherwise it is now essentially the same; save for an air conditioning unit on the left side of the building. Stucco also now covers the timber of the school, but the tradition of ringing the morning bell remains.
These days, at any given time, there are usually only five to ten students attending the school. Unfortunately, this means a high per student salary ratio for the staff who work at the school, which has led the Clark County School District to consider closing its doors.
In fact, the District was set to shutter the school doors in May of 2009. This decision was put off, though, when residents of Goodsprings and the parents of the school’s children protested its closing. This, of course, hasn’t stopped talks over the issue, but the school still remains the longest-running school in all of Nevada that’s still in operation.
One Hundred Years
On September 15, 2013, the Goodsprings Elementary School celebrated its one hundred year anniversary, marking a century to the day that the school first opened its doors in 1913. After all the talks of shutting the school down, the attention this milestone laid at their door was a sort of victory for local residents. In fact, Steve Fleming, of the Goodsprings Historical Society, threw a party for the school and people from all over town were invited to the gathering to celebrate the storied history of the schoolyard and building.
For those who want to play in the school without having to actually head over there and interrupting class, it’s featured right alongside Goodsprings in the previously mentioned Fallout: New Vegas. Of course, it’s portrayed as a bit more depressing in the game than in real life, and there seem to be some rather unfriendly monsters lurking in the school’s interior. Still, it’s keeping a little bit of history alive.
The Goodsprings Elementary School has withstood the test of time. After facing over a century of desert conditions, nuclear fallout and even bureaucratic attempts to shut it down, the school has persisted – to become a resilient landmark for this once bustling mining town. You will see the Goodsprings school on your ATV tour from Vegas Off Road Tours.