While visiting the Cataloochee Valley we drove down to the old school house. We actually began walking down the wrong trail which was located on the opposite side of the creek from the school. If you listen very carefully you can still hear the words echoing ” Now Bobby don’t play in the stream!”
By 1900, the population of Cataloochee had grown to 764. The Cataloochee School was too small to handle the growing population, and in 1906 the township sent a delegation consisting of Hiram and George Caldwell and Steve Woody to Waynesville to demand a newer, larger school.
Officials in Waynesville rejected them, claiming they didn’t pay enough taxes. On the way home, the three drank a bottle of whiskey, and decided to burn down the schoolhouse. After removing the furniture, they set the building ablaze and moved classes to the old Caldwell cabin. They then re-petitioned the government in Waynesville, claiming their school had burned down, and asked for a new one. Due to North Carolina’s mandatory attendance laws, the government had no choice except to build the new school.
When I was growing up in the early seventies, I attend a small Christian school for a couple of years. The school was strapped for funds and was located in a building that once was an old hospital. We actually used desks that were similar to those pictured above. Of course we didn’t have to resort to using ink wells that were once placed inside the holes on the desktops.