The Cataloochee School (when there’s a will, there’s a way)

The Cataloochee School
The Cataloochee School

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.



12 thoughts on “The Cataloochee School (when there’s a will, there’s a way)

  1. Wow, quite a story, Phillip.
    I actually remember those desk with the inkwell holes. We sat at them during my early years of schooling. Lets me know how old they were. 🙂

    Very nice images, particularly the 2nd one with it’s vintage look. Nicely done!

        1. I remember around that time collecting old bottles and my dad telling me about the old ink wells. See how much we learned just from using antique desks in school.LOL

  2. I enjoyed reading the little story about how they got a new school in Cataloochee (what a name by the way!). Made me appreciate the photos even more. Looks like a very idyllic place, but I am sure it was hardship enough back in those days. The post processing of the interior shot is lovely, really makes me feel like I am back in time. I like that there are only two colours.

    1. Thanks Otto. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I’m guilty of looking back at how these people lived and comparing it to the comforts and conveniences that we take for granted today. I’m sure that people in the future will do the same with us. However, I sure that they were proud that they had risen up from log cabins to the places that they could afford to build. It still seems that it was a very hard life. We heard a story about a older lady whose family had purchased her an new refrigerator. She stopped using it because she felt that the spring house did a better job. (smile)

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