Big Creek High School - Abandoned

Big Creek High School

Big Creek High School is a former school in War, West Virginia. Big Creek gained national attention in the 1999 movie “October Sky” and was referred to as “the historic home of the Rocket Boys of McDowell County.”3

Constructed in 19312 and opened in 1932,Big Creek High School was located on the site of the former John’s Branch Coal Company which had closed in 1926.6 Upon construction, the high schools at Berwind, War and Coalwood became junior high schools.

Big Creek closed on May 28, 2010 with a class of 41.1 2 Students at Big Creek were moved to the new River View High School south of the city.3

In 2000, McDowell County proposed a school closure and consolidation plan, which included the closing of Big Creek High School and Iaeger High School, and the construction of a new high school at Bradshaw.5 It was part of a larger project between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the McDowell County Board of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education as a way to consolidate schools, correct numerous flood events and construct modern structures.4 The project was rejected by many, including those in War where Big Creek was located at.

A prolonged fight over consolidation ensued. In a controversial 3-2 vote, the county Board of Education voted to reject millions of dollars in state and federal flood-proofing funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which were earmarked for the construction of four new schools out of the flood plain.4 Public opinion began to change due to the rejection of $40 million in funding and the consolidation proposal was only back on the table after former Governor Bob Wise and the state Legislature became involved.

In the summer of 2008, construction began on the new River View High in Bradshaw.4

The city of War expressed interest in preserving the historic Big Creek High School, for use as a museum and as a source of business growth.3 But due to deterioration of the building, the decision was made to tear down rather than to preserve, with the land being used as a playground and park for the adjoining Southside K-8 school.


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