Ridgway High School “Eagles”

Ridgway High School Building
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Submitted by Lillian Combs
Ridgway High School – 1956 Yearbook
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Submitted by Lillian Combs

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”.

Ridgway High School Building – 1945
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Courtesy of Lillian Combs

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.

The Original Ridgway High School Building
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Now a Private Residence

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.

Ridgway HS Building, Now a Private Residence
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Taken by Lillian Combs (Area above door reads “AUDITORIUM”

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.”

Original Ridgway HS Building – 2010
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Now a Private Residence (Submitted by James Horaz)

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!

Interior of Ridgway HS Gym
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Submitted by Lillian Combs


The Ridgway High School Eagles competed in boys  basketball, track, and baseball while the girls competed in basketball, volleyball, and track.  Other sports may have been offered as well.  The Eagles competed in the GEC conference along with ShawneetownEqualityCave-in-Rock, and Rosiclaire, all schools now on this site. In addition Galatia, Vienna, and Norris City were in the GEC.  We are searching for the coach’s names and team records of some of the great RHS teams of this school’s storied past.

Boys Basketball

Let’s jump right into the hotbed of Ridgway High School.  Can you say STATE CHAMPIONS!!  The Ridgway High School Eagles of 1972-73 can and did!  In only the second Class A State Basketball Tournament ever run, the Ridgway Eagles took the title, bringing the coveted first place trophy back to their small town.  Can you imagine the celebration and intensity of such a run?!

The 1972-73 State Champs were coached by Bob Dallas.  The team ended their season with a record of 32 – 1, beating the Jack Sikma led St. Anne team in the semi-finals and Maple Park Kaneland in the championship game.

Coach Dallas was an icon in Ridgway, teaching P.E. and driver’s ed as well as coaching SEVERAL father – son combos during his tenure at the school.

This effort was followed by another run at the state tournament the following year when Bob Dallas’ team of 1973-74 made it all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to Ottawa Marquette, the eventual state runner-up.  In all, the boys basketball program of Ridgway High won two District titles, five Regional titles, two Sectional titles, two Super Sectional titles and a State Championship.  Great job Ridgway High School!!

1938-39                District Champions

1945-46                District Champions

1966-67                Regional Champions

1972-73   32 – 1   IHSA CLASS “A” STATE CHAMPIONS!!!          Coach Bob Dallas

                               Regional Champions

                               Sectional Champions

                               Super Sectional Champions

                               Beat Pinckneyville 57 – 56

                               Elite 8 Finalist

                               Beat Petersburg PORTA 85 – 79

                               Final Four Finalist

                               Beat St. Anne 73 – 51

                               STATE CHAMPIONS!!

                               Beat Maple Park Kaneland 54 – 51


**Memories from Mark Viniard:

My father was the Supt of Ridgway when we won the state title in 73 and at age 5 I was heavily involved with the team as the players were at our house all the time. Danny Stevens held me up in his arms after they beat Kaneland for the title.  Unless you lived it, there is no real way to describe the 50 mile parade that happened on Sunday as we made our way back to Ridgway for a reception in the gym.”


1973-74                IHSA Class “A” Elite 8 Finalists!!                    Coach Bob Dallas

                               Regional Champions

                               Sectional Champions

                               Super Sectional Champions

                               Beat Ullin Century    79 – 49

                               Elite 8 Finalist

                               Lost to Ottawa Marquette 50 – 47

Marquette eventual state runner-up

1979-80                Regional Champions                                      Coach Bob Dallas 

1983-84                Regional Champions                                      Coach Bob Dallas

**Great Player – as reasearched by Mark Jurenga: 

Roger Suttner

*Drafted by the San Francisco Warriors in 1964 draft; 5th round.

*Played basketball at Kansas State University from 1961-1964.

*Scored 687 career points.

*Gathered in 466 career rebounds (6.0 rpg).

*Part of Big 8 Conference Holiday Tournament champions in 1961 and 1963.

*1964 NCAA Tournament All-Midwest Regional team.

*1964 Tournament games and stats.

– 1st Rd. KSU 64 UTEP 60 Suttner: 16 pts. 13 rbds.

– 2nd Rd. KSU 94 Wichita St. 86 Suttner: 16 pts. 6 rbds.

– Final Four Semifinal  UCLA 90 KSU 81 Suttner: 6 pts. 10 rbds.

– 3rd Place vs. Michigan – Mich. 100 KSU 90 Suttner 20pts. 5 rbds.

Boys Baseball

The boys baseball team of Ridgway wona Regional Title in 1978.  Unfortunately the team record and coach’s name of this and other great RHS diamond teams are not available.  We do know that Coach Bob Dallas also coached baseball when he was leading the school to State basketball tournament history and believe he coached the baseball Regional Champions of 1977-78.

1977-78               Regional Champions                                   Coach Bob Dallas 

Girls Volleyball

The Ridgway Lady Eagles were not without their contribution.  The team of 1978-79 won a District title for RHS.  Again, unfortunately the team record and coach’s name of this and other great RHS diamond teams are not available.

1978-79               District Champions

Alumni Notables

**Great Coach – as reasearched by Mark Jurenga:

IBCA Hall of Fame basketball coach Ken Crawford is a graduate of Ridgway High.

Crawford’s record:

At Teutopolis (1981-2007)

26 yrs. 612-150   .803%

21 seasons of 20+ wins

1985-86 State Champions Class A (33-0)

1999-00 State Runner-Up Class A (33-2)

2006-07 State 3rd Place Class A (32-3)

12 Regional Championships (A title in each of his final six seasons)/

7 Sectional Championships

6 Elite Eight Appearances


Seeking More Information

If you would like to share information regarding Ridgway High School and its many accomplishments, please e-mail us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  We are especially interested in photos of the old high school building.  You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

Ridgway School Band in the Grade School Gym
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Sent to us by Lillian Combs
Ridgway HS Building 2009
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Submitted by Lillian Combs

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