Amanda Keller-Konya  
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Elk River Public School,
Elk River, Idaho (1913 – 1989)

|  School's Out, Forever?  |

After 76 years of educating students, Elk River Public School graduated its last class in 1989. The Elk River community voted on the school’s future on three different occasions before finally voting to close their only school. Journalist David Johnson of the Lewiston Tribune reported, “A total of 55 voted to retain the school district, while a narrowing majority of 58 decided to join ranks with the neighboring White Pine School District 284." The vote split the community and caused animosity between its members. Elk River School held classes from the first through twelfth grades. In its final year only 18 students attended the school. Prior to the closure many parents had already opted for their children to attend schools in the neighboring district for the opportunity to participate in sports, something Elk River school could not offer due to its small and declining student population.

At one time Elk River was a thriving logging town with a population of over 2,000. In the early 1930’s the Potlach Lumber Company closed its Elk River Mill. The winters in Elk River proved to be too harsh to sustain the mill because the timber did not dry out. After the closure of the mill, families were forced to move elsewhere in search of work. Many families relocated to the neighboring logging towns including Potlach, Bovil, Deary, Lewiston and St. Maries. The mills in Potlach, Bovil and Deary also eventually saw the demise of their logging industries due to the over logging of local forests. Closure of these mills once again caused further population shifts resulting in more school closures and consolidations.

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