Special Places – Fruita Schoolhouse

Capitol Reef National Park is a place of spectacular beauty; it has so many areas of special, natural wonder. Unfortunately, very few people get to visit these special places. In an effort to make these hidden treasures known to the public, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have created this blog series to highlight the best-unknown places of Capitol Reef. Watch for new “Special Places” posts.

This blog focuses on the Fruita Schoolhouse in Capitol Reef. While many people drive past the old schoolhouse, very few get out and look at it. And even fewer ever get the chance to go inside – it is very seldom unlocked. We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch thought we’d share a little history about the Fuita Schoolhouse, and show you some photos of the interior.

The schoolhouse was built in 1896 to help educate the children of the eight families living in the area. Originally equipped with a simple dirt roof, shingles were added in 1912. The interior was plastered in 1935.

All eight grades were taught Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic in the schoolhouse’s one room. The students were reportedly unruly. The following passage is taken from the National Park Service page about the Fruita Schoolhouse:

“To delay the start of class, [students] often hid the teacher’s alarm clock in the woodpile. Lanterns used during night meetings were stored in the school, and a few enterprising students found that dropping a small piece of calcium carbide, taken from a lantern, into an inkwell produced a reaction that would cause the ink to overflow. If the inkwell was tightly capped, it would explode and spatter ink all over the room.”

The school was closed in 1941, due to a lack of students. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1964.

When visiting the schoolhouse, be sure to walk around back and see the famous “Fruita Grade School” carving on the rock wall. To see actual pictures of the interior of the schoolhouse, check out Facebook.com/TheLodgeAtRedRiverRanch.

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