A historic replica of Zane Grey's cabin -- lost in 1990 during the Dude Fire -- will be built in Green Valley Park through the efforts of the non-profit Zane Grey Cabin Foundation.
The foundation kicked off its fundraising efforts last week with a site dedication ceremony. Town Councilor Dick Wolfe is president.
"We are seeking charter members of the foundation, as well as donations from businesses to make our members' dream of building a historically accurate replica of the cabin a reality," Wolfe said. "We have a complete set of blueprints and design specifications and will build the replica of Grey's 1922 cabin next to the Rim Country Museum. It's going to be an exact replica of that cabin on the grassy knoll just to the east of the Rim Country Museum, and it will house genuine artifacts from Zane Grey and his era, and the whole building itself will be an exhibit."
Wolfe said local architect Gary Spragins has already completed the blueprints from which the cabin will be rebuilt.
"We spent hours and hours with magnifying glasses looking at photos from Beth Counseller's files," Wolfe said. "I feel confident that it's a good replication."
The famous novelist, who penned 56 westerns, spent each fall at the cabin during the 1920s. He set 24 of his books in Arizona and half of those in the Rim country.
Grey hired "Babe" Haught, who had served as his hunting guide, to build him a cabin where he could hunt and write.
"Enamored with the Rim's rugged environment, Zane was certain that it was also rich in history that would provide many plots for his novels," Beth Counseller, one of the original cabin's caretakers, wrote in "The Story of the Zane Grey Cabin."
The original cabin went through three major phases, Wolfe said.
"The first was the original cabin when Zane Grey contracted with Babe Haught to build him a hunting lodge," Wolfe said. "He wanted a log cabin, but the Haughts figured being an easterner he'd prefer an eastern-style house."
The second occurred after Grey stopped coming to Arizona.
"He got crossways with our Game and Fish people over a hunting permit and he left the state of Arizona and never came back," Wolfe said. "The cabin just deteriorated."
The third and final phase involved the cabin's restoration by Phoenix air conditioning magnate William Goettl.
"An avid outdoorsman and admirer of Grey, Goettl purchased the property from the Grey family in 1962," Counseller wrote. "Using his own money, labor, time and love, he and his crew restored the cabin to its original status."
In 1974, the cabin was included in the National Register of Historic Places, and by the 1980s it was attracting 20,000 visitors a year. Plans to add a western art museum, learning and nature centers and an amphitheater were abruptly interrupted by the Dude Fire that started 12 miles northeast of Payson.
The treasures that were saved, including a book autographed by Grey, his hat, chaps, bridle and guns, 10 first-edition books, movie posters and a handwritten manuscript, will be on display at the replica cabin.
Wolfe believes the replica will be a huge tourist attraction.
"If it was attracting 20,000 people 13 years ago and it was so hard to get to, we feel it's not only going to be a building to house some very valuable artifacts, but it's going to be a real economic engine for the town," he said. Wolfe also cited the cabin's historical importance and educational value.
Charter foundation members will receive a brass membership card that will give them and their immediate families lifetime access to the exhibit, a discount on guest tickets and items in the gift shop, and an opportunity to participate in special events at a reduced prices.
Cost of a charter membership is $80 and is available only during 2004. Other categories of membership range from Family Members at $40 per year to an individual Student Member for local elementary and high school students at $3 per year.
Foundation honorary chairpersons are former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford, State Historian Marshall Trimble and long-time Valley news anchor Bill Close.
To join the foundation or learn more about ways to contribute to construction of the cabin, contact the foundation by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 3188, Payson, AZ 85547; or by phone at (928) 474-6115.