Columbia Falls School District 6

About Us

Columbia Falls is a city along the beautiful Flathead River in Flathead County, Montana, United States. Based on the 2020 census, the current population is at 6,758. Columbia Falls has been ranked as one of the best and safest places to live in Montana.

The town of Columbia Falls was established in 1891, in anticipation of the Great Northern Railroad establishing a route over Marias Pass, following the Flathead River, and passing through the new township. With the hopes of Columbia Falls becoming a major hub and the location of the main railroad depot, many invested heavily into the community. They built a bank, three hotels, a flour mill, a lumber mill, a general store, and, true to the old west traditions, 18 saloons.

Columbia Falls created School District Six in 1898. The city of Columbia Falls was officially incorporated on April 26, 1909.

The first school was held in the old St. Richard’s Catholic Church (now a private residence on 4th Avenue West) beginning in October of 1891, only to close three months later due to funding problems. After passing a bond election, the new Columbus school was built in 1892 on land that was donated by James Talbott, one of the founders of Columbia Falls. This building was torn down in 1942 and the location is now known as Columbus Park on 3rd Street East.

In 1908, the Talbot School was built. This building served elementary students on the bottom floor and high school students on the top level. As one could imagine, getting to school every day when you lived in some of the more remote locations was difficult, if not impossible. In 1938, a dormitory was built to house these students. The Talbot School and its dormitory were torn down in 1973.

In 1941, a new high school was built. This building still stands today on 4th Avenue, and throughout the years has also served as a junior high and elementary school. Construction for our current high school began in 1957, officially opening in 1959, with the first senior class passing through its doors, graduating in 1960.

In 1952, a new elementary school, currently known as Glacier Gateway Elementary, was funded and built by the federal government in lieu of taxes related to the newly built Hungry Horse Dam. This building has served elementary students for the past 70 years and is slated to be torn down upon the completion of the new Glacier Gateway Elementary currently under construction. The school district broke ground on the new facility in May of 2021 and will hopefully be ready for students in 2022.

Ruder Elementary was built in 1975. Throughout the years it has gone through several facelifts, and most recently a major renovation beginning in 2020, adding a 25,000 sq. ft. addition which included a new cafeteria/performance space. The renovation also upgraded plumbing, electrical, and heating in the entire building.

The junior high school on Talbot Road began construction in 2000 and opened its doors for students the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year.

Our community takes great pride in both our community and our schools.

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