Moab's first school, a log cabin, was constructed in 1881. (Moab Museum Collection)

Though much has changed since the Moab Valley was settled in the late 1800s, schools have long been central to the community’s vitality and culture. In 1881, construction began on the first school in Grand County. It was a rough-hewn log cabin, with a roof made of logs and willows. In the winter, a potbelly wood stove provided modest heat to the one-room classroom.

By 1890, Moab had two schools, and in 1896 a separate high school was built for the first time. Remote schools elsewhere in the county also sprang up, from La Sal to Thompson to Dewey. Locations and sizes of schools have changed as the population has fluctuated. This year, the story has continued to unfold with the opening of the new Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School.

Today’s classrooms bear little resemblance to those of the past, however historic photographs in the Moab Museum’s collection evidence a sense of spirit, camaraderie and growth perhaps familiar to Grand County students and educators today.

The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit