The History of Nelson High School
Nelson (population 170) is located on an important railroad intersection of the former Chicago and Northwestern
Railroad tracks (now Union Pacific) in western Lee County. The east-west tracks are those of the "Overland Route" between
Chicago and San Francisco and the tracks going south lead to St. Louis. As far as driving is concerned, Nelson is one mile
north of Rock Island Road connecting Dixon and Rock Falls. Attractions in Nelson include the "Who Else Land" and the "Railside
Bar and Grill". Woodland Shores subdivision is to the east. Nelson was platted in 1862 and is named after the owner of the
property on which the town was established, Samuel Nelson.
The Nelson School pictured above was built in 1922 and we are sure there was an older building used for a school purpose
prior to that. The school is located on the corner of Main Street and Cass Street. We believe high school-aged kids were taught
in this school until the 1940s. High school-aged kids were then bused to Rock Falls High School to the west while the K-8
kids stayed in the Nelson School building.
Today, the building is still standing and in good condition.
The facility closed as a school in 2012 and the students of Nelson now attend school in the East Coloma School District. They
continue to attend high school in Rock Falls.
School memories from Justice Tarbill:
grade school mascot was the Blue Raider. Our colors were blue and white. They
offered basketball to kids 5th grade and up, but since our school was so small
they combined us with another school called Riverdale so we could have enough
kids on a team. The original Nelson school is the tall dark brown building (pictured above); that
portion was a basement (kindergarten was taught in one of the rooms in the
basement) and 2 rooms upstairs (one held 1st and 2nd grade, the other held 3rd
and 4th grade) Tuesday and Thursday music class was held in the main part of the
basement. There were also bathrooms upstairs. It was split into 2 groups for
music k-4 and then 5-8. The special education teacher had a partition in the
basement where he worked out of. The later addition to the school housed the gym
as well as 2 more bathrooms, the principals office, and 2 more classrooms, one
for 5&6 and one for 7&8. Gym glass was held Monday and Wednesday either
in the gym or outside. There was no cafeteria, we had picnic tables set up
around the gym that we would eat at. I miss
Nelson High School "Quick Facts":
Year school system organized: 1800s
Year high school curriculum ceased: 1940s??
Building Status: Still
GS - Blue & White
GS - "Blue Raiders"