A Portage to the Past, Preservation for the Future
Horse Drawn School Bus in Birchdale
This is a photograph of the early school bus that serviced the Birchdale School during the winter. Winter school buses had foot warmers inside of them to keep the children warm to and from school. These winter buses had sleigh skids and were pulled by horses. Once the snow was melted in Spring, automobiles could be used to transport the children, if they were available. The man standing next to the horses may be Olaf A. Nelson, who was the first Birchdale School Bus Driver. Olaf was the bus driver for 25 years.
The Birchdale Consolidated School (pictured) was built in 1911, which replaced the one room school house that had been built in 1905. The consolidated school comprised of two buildings: one for grade school and one for the three-year high school. The grade school building was two-stories with a partial basement. On the front of that building were the eight-foot wide steps that led to the two rooms. The buildings each had one big, round wood heater that was tended to by the teacher and the older students. There were two elementary teachers, with both of them teaching four grades.
Because the Birchdale high school was only three years, the students had to go to International Falls to complete their fourth year. The Birchdale high school eventually closed its doors in 1931, causing many of the students to finish high school in Indus. In the early 1940s, the Birchdale Consolidated School unfortunately burned down after getting struck by lightning.
This photo was generously donated to our collection by the Birchdale Community Church. We are grateful for this contribution and are very happy to give this piece of history a home here at our museum. If you have pieces that you may like to donate to our facility that tell the story of Koochiching County, please feel free to reach out to us by visiting our contact page on here on the website.