Grand County High School students hard at work in 1918 in Moab. [Moab Museum Collection]

A century ago, students in the remote settlements of Grand County may have ridden to school on horseback. A constellation of small schools all around the county served the many remote communities of the region. Students of all ages learned alongside each other, often in buildings with only one room.

In Moab, numerous buildings have housed the fluctuating student population throughout the town’s history while across the remote reaches of the county, small schools often sprang up and disappeared within the span of a few years. From Castleton to Elgin to Dewey, these small schools were often short-lived, operating for a few years as settlers attempted to make a home in the arid, isolated desert and then dying out as the small outpost communities dried up and people moved away.

Today, many schools survive only in memory—through the photographs and stories of those who once attended them. Today, too, the history of Grand County schools continues to be written: the opening of Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School in this past year ushered in a new chapter.

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