Trona Schools

First Trona students  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1918

Trona’s First Schools

The Searles Valley Story (1) has the following to say about Trona’s schools:”The Trona School District was established in October 23, 1916, in a one room building, with one teacher. In 1918 a new schoolhouse was built. It was one large room with folding partitions in the center. A large porch ran all around the building. This was built in and used as additional schoolroom space some years later. The schoolhouse was also used for recreational purposes. There was a picture show once a week. AP & CC furnished the building free of charge until the new school was built in 1941, and also furnished supplies for quite a while with the county only having to pay salaries.

First Trona School on Main Street in 1930s — Photo by Larry Larson

“The old school was located in the building that later became the Department Store and is still standing, at least it was in 2010. It had grades one through eight. The upper grade students had to go elsewhere for high school. Most of them went to Lancaster as they had dormitories there. In 1923 Trona had two teachers and by 1928 the school had three teachers. In 1917 a school was erected at Borosolvay (that is where we lived when we lived in Borosolvay (2)) near the plant and continued until the plant was shut down in 1919. After the school closed the students were sent to Trona School.


The old school as it looked in 1996. The wing on the back was added in the 50s to expand the department store.

[After the Borosolvay school was shut down a train carried the children who lived in Borosolvay to the school in Trona.]

Photo: Ken Kidder


Motor train used as school transportation in Trona.


Engineer and conductor 1)Quintus Richards and 2) Ollel or Allel Parker.

This train is still running as part of the Niles Canyon Railway Museum in Brightside, CA where you may be able to take a ride on it.

“In 1933, a cottage was built on the east side of the school for a kindergarten. By 1936 it was necessary to expand again and a house at the rear of the school was remodeled. It formerly had housed the waitresses. The second grade moved into this room and by this time there were six teachers. In 1937 the grade school reached an all time high enrollment of 180 pupils.”In 1939 and 1940 a ninth and tenth grade were added; and since there was no room to build onto the school building, AP & CC gave the school a house on Magnolia Street. The present school was completed in the fall, just before World War II, and it became the Trona Unified District.” (If my memory is correct it became the Trona Joint Unified School District when the Ruth Mine school was closed.)

Pen and ink from Trona school display at Old Guest House
Photo by David  Stevens Copyright 1996

Patricia Stevens Banks (3) adds, “I attended first grade in the building that they said was used for second grade. I don’t know exactly when we moved to the new school, but I do know it was after Christmas. I started first grade in September 1941. We packed up our things before a school holiday and when we went back it was to the new school.”The building we (the Stevens family) lived in in Borosolvay was the old [Borosolvay] school house. When we first moved in it, it had been made into four apartments and there was a hall down the middle which went to the bathroom at one end. I think all of the apartments must have shared the bathroom, but I was so young at the time that I don’t remember for sure. We moved to another building for awhile while it was remodeled into 2 apartments each with its own bathroom.”When I was in junior high the Lewis family lived in the same apartment that we [used to live] in. (Juanita, Art, Vernon, etc.) I don’t remember ever going in it after we moved out. This is where we lived during the 1941 strike and it had already been remodeled then. I was about 2 when we moved in. It was before Joel was born.”

Marydith Haughton (4) wrote, ” [The old Trona School] building was also used for community functions as well as Sunday School and Church services……”Since there was no high school in town, students going on to the higher grades had to attend school elsewhere. They either stayed with relatives or friends in San Bernardino, Lancaster or Los Angeles. However a school bus did transport kids five days a week to high school in Randsberg through the 1942 school year.”In 1940 – 1941 school year AP&CC furnished a house on Magnolia Street for the ninth and tenth graders. The 11th and 12th graders continued to travel to Randsberg until the 1941 – 1942 school year. On September 29, 1941 the present school was ready and opened for classes with eight teachers and a principal who taught one class. In June 1942 there were 14 graduates celebrating the commencement ceremonies.”The school enrollment has continued up and down over the years. Today [1998] there are 460 students.”


Taken at the Old Trona School on Main Street 1940-1941 Front row, left Aloha Hunter, right, Dorothy DeYoung, third from right, Barbara May. Second row, second from left, Ray Bell, fourth, Joan McGregor I think, last, Hugh Anderson who still works at the Trona Railway or is retired from there. In the back row, the boy in the plaid shirt lived in West End, can’t remember his name, but he died a few years after this picture was taken. A shock to the whole class. — Ray Bell

I received the following email Friday, February 14, 2003:

I read, with interest, tonight, the hyperlink to the Trona Schools in this website.  I would like to add a little more information from my find memories of the old school.  My name is Ray Bell.  I was in the graduating class of 1950.  I started school at the old one pictured in the article.  I remember it quite well and recall that I used to spend lots

of time during recess going out into the play yard and dig holes because we were so close to the lake that we could dig down about elbow deep and get water.  That was fascinating to me.  I also remember the porch around the school and that the wide steps of the porch going down to ground level were used for class group pictures.

Regarding dates when we moved to the new (present) school,  I vividly remember when Pearl Harbor was bombed, going to the old school and all we did for a day or two, at least it seems to me now that it was that long, is that we sat around in our class and the teacher brought a radio to class and we just listened to Pearl Harbor news. I suppose that was, in those days, and “on line” education in history – in the making.  So, it must have been after Pearl Harbor that we moved over to the new school. Thanks for the extremely interesting web sight on Trona.

Ray Bell

The attack on Pearl Harbor was December 7, 1941. This would be consistent with the memories of of Ray Bell and my sister Patricia.

Photo: Provided by Ray Bell

Kindergarten or First Grade Class at Old Trona
School on Main Street

First row left, Dorothy DeYoung, right Shirley Trotter. Second row, left Barbara May, fifth Aloha Hunter, seventh, Ray Bell Last row, left, the boy from West End who died young. — Ray Bell


This is the kindergarten class of 1940-1941 at the old school. The girl at the right front is Sylvia Chavarria. The boy in the striped shirt is Richard Peach. The girl in the middle back is Barbara Pease. Patricia Stevens is standing at the back left.


January 25, 1944.

Patty Hess, Douglas Ritchie, Jim Ewing, Richard Wilhelms, Patty Stevens, Derek Allen, Lawrence Jolly, Franklin Pilott

Back: Eileen Robinson, Mike Robinson, Bruce Robinso

(1) Searles Valley Story was written and published by Searles Lake Branch of American Association of University Women in 1975 for the national bicentennial.
(2)(3) Patricia Stevens Banks provided additional information from her personal recollections.
(4) Searles Valley Historical Society Newsletter, Volume XII No. 3, July, August, September 1998.


Trona Joint Unified Schools Auditorium  Photo by David  Stevens Copyright 1996

(Trona Joint Unified School District)


Trona Joint Unified Schools Gymnasium
Photo by Connie Courto 2002

The pictures below were sent to me by the Fred Austin family.


First grade class Miss Gill was the teacher. Val Pipkin in the front row. About 1939 because we moved into the new school in 1942 and I was in the 4th grade. – Val Hurlocker This is the THS clas of 1950 that also included Ray Bell who sent me more pictures of his class that you can see about mid page.


Students at old school sometime between 1918-1941.


These are students at the old school that was built in 1918 and used until 1941. Peggy Gauslin is in the third row. Since she started high school in Los Angeles in 1919 we can be pretty sure this is the eighth grade class in 1918.


Students at old school sometime between 1918-1941.

Trona on the Web © Copyright 1997-2016

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2 thoughts on “Trona Schools

  1. Ann Tankersley

    I’m having trouble getting into Alumni Registry again. I logged in using Axxxxxx, password : xxxxxxx which is the password I have always used and it kept telling me it was invalid and then when I went to reset it, it wouldn’t let me. HELP

    1. David Stevens

      When resetting passwords you must use a strong password. Strong passwords are annoying for us old farts but I have learned that I must make them my best friends. It isn’t fun or cheap being hacked.‎ can be very helpful. Lastpass is free and is recommended by security experts.


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