Don’t open until you arrive
8. Don’t Be Tardy
Take a picture!
N 36° 24’ 43.5”
W 113° 19’ 32.1”
Sit up straight and pay attention.
Use established parking area leaving enough room for other vehicles to come and go.
Difficulty: ♦ - - -
Welcome to the Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse. You may want to take a bathroom break at the outhouse behind the school. Feel free to enter the schoolhouse and travel back in time to when students from Little Tank and Bundyville had classes here.
Every morning, the bell on top of the Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse roof rang to summon children from across Cactus Flat. They cut through fields of corn and wheat to arrive at this quaint, one-room schoolhouse made from ponderosa boards. Often, a loyal dog or sheep would follow in their footsteps. These animals waited patiently outside the door for their masters to exit at the end of the day.
Before classes ever started, students slogged through busy mornings packed with chores. They fed the animals and milked the cows. During winter, when kids sat in a circle around the small wood-burning stove in the middle of the room, heat from the crackling logs warmed their cold hands and damp clothing. The sour smell of splashed milk wafted into the air, pungent enough to make any school teacher’s eyes water. Sally Bundy, who taught at the isolated school from 1961 to 1962, remembers this phenomenon well. She bundled up in a heavy coat to circle the frigid, outer edges of the room while teaching.
Each day, Sally brought a large sheet of butcher paper to school. She divided the page into columns and wrote lists of activities under each student’s name. This helped her keep track of the curriculum needs of eight inquisitive students ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade. Throughout the day, she flitted from one child to the next, helping with geography, history, math and reading. The challenge of keeping ahead of her students in all their different subjects prompted Sally to get creative.
Though the schoolhouse sheltered a community of bright learners, no electric lights illuminated its white walls. During the day, natural light sparkled through ten windows onto the blackboard, piles of school books and the polished keys of a piano. Since the schoolhouse functioned as a central meeting place and hosted many evening gatherings, it was necessary to devise a means of lighting the room at night. The warm glow of lanterns illuminated early morning church services, late night dances, shindigs, Halloween parties and Christmas programs. At Christmastime, men harvested a tall pinyon pine, and Sally and the children hung beautiful paper decorations and chains in its branches.
When Sally taught here, the hustle and bustle surrounding the schoolhouse had already quieted quite a bit. Activities at the schoolhouse slowed in the years following the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Families started to drift away from the Mt. Trumbull area, and the schoolhouse saw fewer and fewer visitors until it closed its doors for good in 1966. In the following decades, the boards weathered gray and the building fell into disrepair.
Descendants of the Cactus Flat settlers rallied to keep the schoolhouse alive, even after arsonists set the historic structure ablaze in 2000. After two restorations, today the schoolhouse doors are open once more. Outside, the bright white boards and windows trimmed in forest green look sharp against the sagebrush flat. Inside, a wealth of historic photographs paper the walls. Arithmetic and social studies books from the 1950’s sit piled in the cabinets. A teacher’s desk and piano grace the honey-yellow floorboards. Come inside to experience a testament to the indomitable pioneering spirit of the Arizona Strip. Sit for a while, and imagine going back in time. Can you picture yourself square-dancing by flickering lantern light or learning your times tables while free-ranging cattle bellow outside the window?