The History of Ridgway High School
Ridgway (population 928) is located in far southeastern Illinois just 10 miles west of Indiana in central Gallatin County. A city for location reference would be Carbondale located 40 miles west of Ridgway. The main roadway through town is the Ridgway New Haven Road on which Ridgway sits between County Highways 1 and 10. The Prairie Trunk Railroad runs through town and the Crawford Creek flows through the north side of Ridgway. The town was named after Tom Ridgway who was instrumental in getting the railroad to pass through the area. Since 1958 Ridgway has been calling itself the “Popcorn Capitol of the World”.
A nice history of the Ridgeway School system can be found on the Gallatin County School District website page of http://www.lth6.k12.il.us/schools/gallatin/ridgway.htm . According to this site the first school was established in Ridgway in 1852. A high school was probably in place for the students by the late 1880s, possibly even sooner. Ridgway High School served the town’s children for about 100 years. In the late 1980s consolidation talks arose between Ridgway and other Gallatin County towns such as Equality and Shawneetown. We believe the year was 1987, however are not positive, that a consolidation effort was realized with the creation of the Gallatin County School District. An all-inclusive school complex was built in a country setting near a little town called Junction.
This personal account of the Ridgway school system is provided by William C. Bradley:
“The picture you have (to the right) is the original school that has now been remodeled into a private residence. A newer portion was built just to the N and attached to the original building pictured in 1952. School opened in the new part for the 1952-53 school year. The older portion then became the grade school.
After county consolidation was passed, the Ridgway site was used for 4 more years, for students from the old Ridgway and Equality school districts. Shawneetown students remained at Shawneetown, but the Gallatin County H S sports program utilized the Ridgway facilities. The new Gallatin County H S was open for business in the 1991-92 school year. My youngest son was a freshman in the first Gallatin Co. consolidated district, but attended the old Ridgway H S facility all 4 years, being in the last class to actually have graduation ceremonies in the Ridgway gym, in spring of 1991.”
The fate of the Ridgway High School building is that a portion was put to good use. The building pictured on this page was utilized as the High School for several years. Additons were made to the school and its eventual use was for the Grade School and a few High School classes.
Alice (Bradley) Myers added the following information on the Ridgway school building:
“The building pictured (above, to the right) is the “original” high school that my mother attended. (I believe she was in the class of 1937.) It was later the Grade School building that attended. The lower levels windows to the left and right of the entrance that is pictured were the first grade rooms when I attended. (I began first grade in the fall of 1955.) The first grade teachers were Mrs. Sophia Atkisson and Miss Ruth Smith. The uppermost windows comprised the “Study Hall” and Library for the High School during the years that I attended. I graduated High School in 1967.”
Ridgway High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year Ridgway HS closed: 1987
Year closed as school: 1991
Consolidated to: Gallatin County School District
Ridgway team nickname: the “Eagles”
Ridgway team colors: Blue & Gold
School Fight Song: “Ridgway High”
(Sung to “On Wisconsin”)
Ridgway High, Ridgway High
Dashing down the floor.
Pass the the ball around to all
Come on and raise that score!
Rah Rah Rah!!
Ridgway High, Ridgway High
Fighting for their fame.
Fight fellows fight
And we will win this game!