Mt. Carmel School, Baker County, Oregon

Mt. Carmel School Building Razing Recalls History of River District
December 11, 1980

By Evalyne Fisher

Mt Carmel School, No More--The years had taken their toll of the abandoned Mt. Carmel School building on Shadelane which is now the stretch of Anthony Lake highway south along North Powder River.  The small picture is as it was when still in usable condition. The first picture with the large willow on the river side behind it was taken in 1973 and is as it was seen from the highway in recent years.  The nearly razed building last week is shown in the last picture.

     Haines--Pigtails, Ink wells and baby squirrels in little boys pockets are just memories this week as the sixth school started in Baker County became a pile of lumber and some old stove pipe.

     The old Mt. Carmel School has been torn down.

     Mt. Carmel school located on the Anthony lakes Road was started in 1865 by C. M. Foster, then County School Superintendent, it was called District No. 6 Baker County, but was District No. 2 in Union County. (In 1862, Baker County included Union and Wallowa counties, but in 1864, Union and Wallowa counties were formed).

     Mt. Carmel took in both sides of North Powder River and was a joint county school.

     The building being torn down this week was the second school building built to serve the district, the firs being at approximately the same size became so rickety it was propped up with poles, and had wooden tables and benches.

     Some children attending school in the first building were sons and daughters of early pioneers: Picher, Powers, Riggs, Dealys and Davis among others.  A ranch house along the river served as an interim school while the first building was torn down and the new one was built about 1900.

     The school had one room and a small library, and parents were proud of their school, keeping it painted white with a red roof.
     No school busses picked students up to attend the Mt. Carmel School.  The walked, came by buggy, by hack or by horseback. There was a large barn in back of the school, but it has been gone for many years. there were also outside toilets, his and hers, on separate sides of the building.

     In 1914, the teacher, Ethalene May presented the 26 children in attendance that year at the school with a souvenir booklet with the school directors being: Chairman, J. O. Picher; Clerk, A. K. Dryborough; and S. A. Daugherty and George Carnes.

     A Miss Minne Schumaker of Baker taught at the school, Lulu Davis Cantrell recalling she boarded with her family.  She eventually became a num.

     A Mr. Cleve Mercer reportedly ruled with an iron hand, and probably with good reason.  some of the boys were pretty well grown and Mercer didn't hesitate to challenge them with a stove poker.

     A Blanche Dryghbor was a large woman who was also capable of handling the pupils. She taught two first year high school students when she instructed Deidre Carnes Williams and Paul Gardner as well as the room full of children.

     Fred Chrissman of North Powder recalls his eighth grade teacher was Mrs. Bill (Faye) Christenson.  He said he quit school then, "being smarter than the teacher".

     Mrs. Louise Dodson of North Powder also taught at the little country school.  She was first a pupil as Louise Parker in 1911, then a teacher, Miss Parker in 1925-28 and then again as Mrs. Dodson in 1944-45.

     The last graduating class was in 1943 when Jean Newman and Valeria Robinette became eight grade graduates.  School year 1946-47 found nine enrolled in school; that fall with only four children enrolled (sisters Barbara and Phylis Kirkland and Larry Pratt and Paul Christenson, with Mrs. Elliot as teacher) the community voted to close the school with the students going to either Muddy Creek or North Powder.

    Through the years, the Mt. Carmel School was a gathering place for church services and Sunday School.  Even after school was no longer held, faithfully the American Sunday School Union services where held there with community involvement until 1954.
     Instead of a PTA, the community formed their own "Mom and Pop" club and met once a month, sponsored box and pie socials and purchased things for the school.

     Ron and Lynn Perkins own the property the school was situated on as they recently purchased the Christensen estate, and the empty school had reverted to the owner. The Perkins brothers hired the building torn down and plan to salvage the usable lumber.

     This reporter was never able to find why the school district was called Mt. Carmel and if anyone has the answer please contact The Record Courier.

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