The School Bus

Once schools were built, the students had to get to them. In the early days the students had to make their way to school however they could. In the warmer weather that could mean riding a horse or taking a wagon. When it was cold, a sled might be used. Many students walked. Because of the limits of transportation, small schools were scattered around the rural areas of the county.

One of the earliest buses we have record of in Iron County was used in Midvalley, between Cedar City and Enoch. These students attended the Enoch school. They would ride to school in a covered wagon with plank seats along the sides and a wood stove. As students boarded they would crowd as close to the stove as possible to keep warm. Some children would ride their horses to where the wagon started at the Steven’s settlement. Others would be picked up on the way until there was a full load by the time it arrived at school.


Ira Heaton with his first bus

In the early 1920s it was decided to consolidate schools. Ira Heaton had moved to Midvalley, and he wanted his children educated in the larger Cedar City schools rather than the one room school. He and a few other families took their children to school in a 1922 Model T panel truck. In 1924 the school board furnished Mr. Heaton with a livestock truck and fuel if he would drive it at no cost to the county. During cold weather a tarp was thrown over the cattle rack for protection from storms. The next year Mr. Heaton bought four 1925 Model T truck chassis and built bodies on them. They could seat about thirty with benches that ran around the perimeter and one down the middle. The buses were heated by the exhaust pipe which ran under the middle bench. Passengers had to be careful not to leave their shoes resting too long on the heater. These four buses gathered students in from Kanarraville, Enoch, Summit, and Iron Springs. In 1927 the first factory built bus was purchased and in 1935 the school board took over busing.


It took several years for the transportation infrastructure to be completed. Money from the county was matched with labor and materials donated by communities to pave bus routes. More buses were built out of truck chassis. One member of the school board drove to Detroit with his wife to pick up a bus and drive it back to Cedar City. On the return trip he drove the bus while his wife drove the car.

Today we hardly think about the importance of transportation in education. At one time getting to and from school was quite an adventure.


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