Photo by Marcus Heerdt/Fall River County Herald-Star
The US Forest Service recently transferred ownership of the historic Cold Springs Schoolhouse and Pioneer Cemetery to the Cold Springs Historical Society. The property is approximately 4.7 acres and is located to the north of Hot Springs in Custer County at the intersection of Rankin Ridge Road and Flynn Creek Road.
By Marcus Heerdt
PRINGLE – The US Forest Service (USFS) recently transferred ownership of the historic Cold Springs Schoolhouse and Pioneer Cemetery to the Cold Springs Historical Society (CSHS). The non-profit has members who reside in Custer and Fall River counties.
The school and cemetery grounds are located to the north of Hot Springs in Custer County at the junction of Rankin Ridge Road and Flynn Creek Road.
The USFS deeded the roughly 4.7 acres of property to CSHS on March 14, 2023, at 11:03 a.m.
“Two of our members, Oonagh Wood and Kim Geer, worked hard to secure the property for us,” said Randy Geer, CSHS chairperson. “Oonagh spent several years attending meetings and sending emails. As Forest Service staff changed, the requirements changed. It was an ongoing process that seemed to have no end. My wife Kim joined the process in 2021 and got a hold of Representative Dusty Johnson’s office. With the help of Dusty’s office, CSHS was able to get it done.”
The schoolhouse, which was built in 1887, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973. It was one of the earliest schools constructed in the Black Hills.
According to information shared by Geer, the Cold Springs Schoolhouse was built by local settlers John and Joshua Raver, Melvin Lucas, and Henry and Jim Bowman at a cost of $200. It is a hand-hewn, one-room log (ponderosa pine) structure whose walls are joined with square notching and interstices daubed with Portland cement. The schoolhouse is a significant example of log building traditions that occurred during the settlement of South Dakota, which is now a rare construction technique.
The building was used on and off as a school until 1949, and also functioned as a community gathering place that hosted weddings, funerals, political meetings, and other local programs.
Maude Drew was the school’s first teacher with a class size of 14 pupils. She was paid a salary of $40.65 for the year.
In 1965, the USFS suggested razing the school, but 13 local residents objected to that idea and formed CSHS, and USFS allowed the group to restore the schoolhouse and maintain the adjoining cemetery. Burials in the cemetery date back to the mid-1880s and include several pioneering families of the area.
CSHS will be hosting a celebration of ownership and open house old-time picnic on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. A free will donation meal will include sloppy joes, beans, chips, drinks, and desserts. There will also be wagon rides, a corn hole toss contest, a pie eating contest, and music by Southern Rail Drifters (bluegrass band).
Teachers who taught at Cold Springs Schoolhouse:
Mrs. Al Barnes