History Comes Alive During P-S Walking Tour

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A normal stroll through Pine or Strawberry brings the past alive when you tour the communities with the Walking History Booklet offered by the Pine-Strawberry Historical Society at the Pine Museum.

The tour boasts 19 historic locations in Pine, spanning about a mile and a half, and six historic spots in Strawberry spanning the three miles of Fossil Creek Road.

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Melvin VanVorst hopes visitors will learn about the past by taking a historical walking tour of Pine and Strawberry.

Each of these settings offers a unique look at the past and present. Here, residents are celebrating the past, by recognizing the buildings and the people that brought this village to life. While learning about the past, you will find residents still at home and active businesses and a people ready to tell the tales of days gone by.

In Pine, the tour begins on Pine Creek Canyon Road at the north end of Pine at the home of Issac Hunt, built for his wife in 1912. One of his daughters still lives there today.

While walking, reading and learning, the urge to find a good a cup of coffee might possess you, as it did my host, Melvin VanVorst. Inside the Randall House, a home-turned-restaurant, you will find good coffee, good conversation and lots of local history. Evidence of the original construction, including adobe material and rough-hewn wood has been exhumed and framed.

The tour continues south toward Cemetery Road, where the trail leads to the Pine Cemetery, the final resting place of many of our pioneers. Coupled with the booklet, even the cemetery has a story to tell, those who died too young, those who had many children and those who carved a long and hearty life out of nothing.

Continuing on, walkers will head north, where the tour now covers the west side of Highway 87. Here you will find many varieties of architecture from the simple country style of Lyman Leavitt (now the offices of Sunny Mountain Realty) to the stone construction of Pryor Miller’s home (now First American Title’s office). The stones came from Pine Creek.

The Community Center and its historic collection of buildings have always served as the heart of P-S, and here the tour tells us why. This site has served for worship, community gatherings and education. The community center was once the site of the Pine High School. You will also find the Pine Museum here.

Now that you have walked part of the trail, the photos and artifacts will add that much more color to the tale. You can also check out the CD-ROM of the walking tour, complete with narration.

Once you are done in Pine, you should head up to Strawberry. Some might choose to drive this route, but the six sites are well worth the time invested. Here you will find that cattle summered in most of Strawberry Valley before city folk discovered the beauty of the area. Weathered old barns dominate the tour and have been photographed for years.

You will also learn that there is a Strawberry Cemetery and it is not known just how big it could have been. The fenced area is recognized by Gila County as a cemetery and in it are five graves, marked by wooden crosses, names unknown and two graves with headstones.

To end the tour in the most fitting way, the guide leads you to the home of Lufkin and Mary Hunt two of Strawberry’s most dedicated residents. This dynamic couple has contributed in leadership and preservation of the history of P-S. Lufkin’s grandfather bought this house in 1912, and Lufkin has lived there all his life. It is people like the Hunts, Millers, Randalls and Leavitts who forged the trail for us to follow.

“The significance of which family was first, second or third is overshadowed by the caliber of all who came,” says the introduction to the walking tour. “They were stalwart men and women who paved the way for others.”

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