Old school house rocks and rolls through Moffat County Friday
People driving south of Craig on Friday morning shared the road with a piece of Moffat County history — Axial Basin School.
The log school was built in the late 1800s by homesteader William “Bill” Taylor to provide a house of education for children around the settlement of Axial, Colorado and the surrounding area known as Axial Basin.
On Friday, Bower Brother Construction moved the old school and outhouse 30 miles from the Shaver Ranch near what used to be Axial to the Wyman Living History Museum about four miles east of Craig.
The move was part of an agreement struck in 2015 to prevent the school from being destroyed when Tri-State Generation & Transmission purchased the ranch, said Walt Proctor, part of the Shaver family and one of the last people to attend the school before it closed in 1962.
Proctor was determined to see the building moved and had been working on the project for several years.
“It was a major effort by a lot of people including the crane service, Bud Bower and Bower Brothers Construction, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, the museum and so many more” Proctor said.
The cost of the move hasn’t been tallied, but was shared among the family, Tri-State Generation & Transmission and Bower Brothers Construction.
Over the summer, foundations will be laid and the buildings moved into place. They will line up with other historical buildings at the living history museum.
“We’re going to create a street with the store, school and blacksmith shop,” said museum Founder Lou Wyman.
The school and outhouse will sit north of the Pagoda Store. The store was moved in 2004 from its original location in the town of Pagoda that was located on the Williams Fork River.
The store was moved in two pieces — roof and body — to accommodate power lines, then reconnected and refurbished by Kenny Harris from Hayden.
In contrast, the Axial School was moved in one piece. Crews had to lift power lines out of the way along the route down 1st Street to allow the school to pass.
To the north of the school’s new location sit two other historic buildings — a blacksmith shop and a barn.
The blacksmith shop came to Craig from a homestead claimed by Ordway Mellon in Walden. The Haworth family that had purchased the homestead from Mellon donated it to the museum in 2004. Colorado Northwestern Community College uses the shop for blacksmithing classes.
Museum founder Lou Wyman’s father, also named Lou, built the barn in 1920. Lou’s son David brought it to the museum pole by pole and rebuilt it. Eventually, the barn will house workhorses that will be used to cut and bale hay.
David Wyman said he’s almost more excited by the outhouse than the schoolhouse.
“It had separate rooms for the boys and the girls, with two holes each. That was almost unheard of in those days,” David said.
A coal storage room separated the girls and boys rooms and wing walls further shielded students from the elements and each other. The storage room prevented the boys from carving holes in the wall to “peak” in on the girls, Proctor said.
The school didn’t get indoor plumbing until around 1958.
When Proctor was a student at the school roughly from 1959 to 1962, two extension had been added to the original log cabin and the logs had been covered in siding to help keep the wind out.
He recalls that there were four students one year and around 12 kids the next.
“Then they started bussing junior high to Craig and the younger kids to Hamilton,” Proctor said.
In 1962 the school was closed.
“I didn’t want it torn down,” Proctor said. “You get to be my age and start to describe the past to kids and they look at you like you’re nuts. Now we can show them what it was like.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education
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