Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Features / Living

May 13, 2012

Randolph Garner: Nolan River School offers the then but now


The public is invited to an open house of the Nolan River School at 10 a.m. Thursday. 

The school has been completed for a bit over a month and we have already had several days of school for students. 

The experience has been extraordinary for children and teachers alike.

For those who have not heard or followed the new school it is perhaps unique in its goals. The nonprofit Johnson County Heritage Foundation has added this school to the Chisholm Trail Museum. 

The foundation operates the Chisholm Trail Museum, which not only focuses on the historic trail but also celebrates the history of our area with the historic site of Wardville. 

But much has happened out here over the past 10 years.

The Nolan River School is our latest project to the area. 

The school will share our past with many school children. For one day, students will attend a full day of school as their great-grandparents may have done a century and a half ago. 

This is not merely a “field trip.” Instead children will have a full day of class. 

Students’ schoolbooks will be Blue Back Spellers, McGuffy Readers and will write with slate and chalk. During this time they will be addressing current learning objectives that are state mandated today. All this is done in the environment of 1868.

The school is a one-room pier-and-beam wood construction. No electricity is in the school. A wood-burning stove provides heat. 

The interior reflects the past. The floor and desks are built with wood more than 100 years old. Large windows provide a cool outside breeze. Photos of presidents of the past as well as period maps are on the walls.

A 35-star U.S. flag is present for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Nolan River School is working with the Cleburne, Alvarado, Blum, Joshua and Keene school districts and Southwestern Adventist University for classes next year. 

Home-school children and some private schools may also have a day here. 

The goal is to share history with students today in a special historic environment.

The Chisholm Trail Museum is fast becoming a favorite of tourists.


Randolph Garner has been a resident of Cleburne since 1965. He can be reached at

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