District History

Our District's History

Three Rivers School District has a rich history. Officially formed in 1994 when the Josephine County School District merged with the Applegate School District, Three Rivers is relatively young compared to its predecessors.

Kerby School, unknown date.

The first Josephine County school, in Kerbyville, OR (a town that was once the county seat of Josephine County), was organized in 1856 and operated an elementary school—the Kerby School—during that year. The earliest records of a Superintendent serving for Josephine County School District are from 1881.

There were other school districts in the area that formed in the first quarter of the 20th century—Dryden, Hugo, Merlin, Williams, and Wolf Creek. In January 1945, all of these school districts combined to form the Josephine County School District. There were 18 schools total, with most of them no larger than a few rooms each.

Merlin School, in the 1890s. Photo taken from newspaper clipping.

There were no schools in Cave Junction until 1950, when a high school was built. Then in 1974, a new high school was built (Illinois Valley High School, still operating today) and the old high school became Lorna Byrne Middle School. In 1977, the district opened two other new high schools—Hidden Valley High School and North Valley High School—and reorganized the junior high schools into middle schools—Fleming, Lincoln Savage, and Lorna Byrne. All of these schools are proud to be Three Rivers schools today.

Applegate School, unknown date.

Murphy School, unknown date. This is now the Three Rivers School District Administration Building.

Wolf Creek School, in the 1890s.

Images are courtesy of Josephine County Historical Society.