Renaming The Beeline



The current discussion about a name for the newly designated scenic highway to Payson calls up centuries of history, and many potential names.

The same route over the Mazatzal Mountains (most likely an Aztec name, not Apache, meaning "the place of deer") followed Sycamore Creek from the Verde River and then at Sunflower tended to branch in several directions.

During prehistoric times it was called the Moqui Trail, leading eventually to the Hopi villages where trade was conducted with those pueblos. We could call the road The Moqui Scenic Highway, except that term was given the Hopis derisively meaning "the dead." Not good.

From the 1860s when the military built a trail leading into the Rim country from Fort McDowell, it was called The Reno Road, since its terminus was Camp Reno near Punkin Center. At first Camp Reno was planned to be established in Green Valley, today's Payson. Reno Scenic Highway would be very authentic historically, but would require a history lesson for every newcomer.

From the 1920s to the 1950s this same road, now developed into a graveled auto road, was called The Bush Highway. The name honored Harvey Bush, a Mesa businessman who was instrumental in getting the project passed by the state legislature. That name also would be subject to ridicule I am sure, especially by those who had no idea of where the name came from.

It was 1959 when the old Bush highway was improved and paved, and included a short cut through two Indian reservations. This meant that folks from the Valley could come up from Phoenix and not have to go to Mesa and around Saguaro Lake first. Since it was "a beeline" from Phoenix across the desert the entire road soon took on that name.

It would be reasonable to call it The Beeline Scenic Highway, which would please all of us who grew up with that term, but would still require a history lesson for the newcomers.

Since the road is a gateway to the Mogollon Rim, how about "Rim Gateway Scenic Highway?"

Stan Brown, Payson

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