Little School on the Prairie

Adelaide Township School

This little school is in Adelaide Township, Bowman County, just off Rhame Road, just a few miles south of Rhame, North Dakota. It is a particularly beautiful example of a two-room prairie schoolhouse in a very sparsely populated part of the state.

Adelaide Township School
Adelaide Township School

We’ve found it somewhat rare to find a little school on the prairie like this where the bell tower is still in good condition. Frequently, they have toppled by the time we arrive to shoot some photos.

Adelaide Township School
Adelaide Township School

We photographed this school as we were on our way south to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, with our eventual destination Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. When you head south from this place, into South Dakota, you’ll find yourself in some remote areas on the way to Belle Fourche, where radio stations come and go and the distance to the next gas station might surprise you. Plan well, muchachos.

Adelaide Township School
Adelaide Township School
Adelaide Township School
Adelaide Township School

A herd of *pronghorn were having some fun in the morning sun in the field across the road. Most of them bounded away when we arrived but this one hung around as if to say, “Hey, what are you guys up to?

Adelaide Township School

*Edited to correct. This is the part where I confess I had no idea the animals we saw in western North Dakota were pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana) and not antelope, which are native to Africa. There’s a resemblance, but educating myself on pronghorn was fascinating.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

14 Comments on “Little School on the Prairie

  1. What a cool little place! Hope to come here and see it myself sometime in the near future! Also troy, have you considered visiting streeter ND? I just went to there last weekend and there was an impressive abandoned school that I looked in. Didn’t walk inside the busted door entrance to far, cause the floor was covered with debris and moss, and parts of the ceiling could definitely fall on you. But it made for some good photo ops!

  2. What a beautiful building….too bad someone didn’t see to take care of it!

  3. Looks like the same floor plan as the Heil School, but it appears this school had indoor bathrooms. I believe the Heil school still has their bell in the tower. I was told Elgin wanted the bell after they consolidated with that district. It was great to see a new paint job on the Heil school. They have a rummage sale there every June to raise funds for upkeep.

    • I was just wondering where my Mom’s middle name came from as it was ADELAIDE, her Mother Grandma (Christiansen) Spires was a school teacher and so maybe Grandma taught at that school ,I will have to look through my history book and see. Have you been to the Tablemountain area south of Rhame? that is where my mother was born.

  4. Much bigger and fancier than the one I went to south of Turtle Lake. Hey, but ours had a horse barn. Before my time.

  5. Both my sisters taught in country schools. Both had horse barns for the kids that rode horseback to school to put their horses in. Some students still rode horse to school. There was no indoor bathrooms and it was the teachers responsibility to keep the pot bellied stove burning. One taught in a two room school but one room was used as living quarters for my sister and the other room was for all eight grades. I have a hand bell that was used to start school and to end recess. My wife attended a one room school through eight grades north of McClusky or south of Drake.

  6. The photos show how the school was built – all that plaster and lathe. Was the exterior really brick? Disappointing that people seem to feel moved to break the windows. My husband wanted to buy and remodel an old school near Bismarck as our first home. By the time he had the money, the school had been demolished.

  7. I attended this school. Their was a horse barn and a house for the teacher to live in. At one time, there were lots of people living here and the school also had two years of high school.
    The school would still be in good shape like the bell tower, if someone would not have shot the windows out after it closed. It was a very nice building in it’s time. Fuel oil heat, forced air to keep it warm. Indoor bathrooms were a luxury at that time. The big basement was used as a spot to play in during the cold weather for recess. I attended Adelaide School for 8 years.

    • Jon Hendrickson– Do you know when the school closed? What else can you tell us. Quite interesting.

  8. When the Milwaukee came West in 1908 it brought homesteaders by the train load. From Hettinger to West of Bowman was wonderful land suitable for dryland farming. Nearer to rhame it was not so good but the people came in spring when it was green and took up homesteads.
    The first few years were filled with optimism and good crops, good prices and hope for a good future.
    Nearly every family has several children and they borrowed money to build these fine schools.
    By the end of WW1 the dream was fading. Grain prices plumetted with Europe getting back in production, Russian thistles took over a lot of the land and many could not survive, lost their farm to the bank or the grocery who had been feeding them in credit.
    By the mid thirties tractor farming transformed the west, leaving behind a lot of abandoned farms, schools and businesses.
    In the 60’s the pill finished off the small farmers.

  9. after locating a newspaper article I learned it was open in 1909 and the youngest class to attend was in their 60’s. The Newspaper was the Bowman Pioneer feb 12, 2016. I am a photographer that enjoys searching for abandon schools and churches. I try to locate the history of these places. I contact the historical society in the counties the schools or churches are in. I want to thank you for sharing information and photos of the places you have visited. It made it easier to locate many sights even though it still took some work on my part but It made is so much easier. I wanted to pay it forward in a small way by adding information for this school. Again Thank you

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