To learn more about the Rim Country's ancient past, visit the Museum of Rim Country Archaeology, on West Main, next to the Payson Senior Center and Payson Womans Club. The facility houses artifacts primarily from two prehistoric sites -- Risser Ranch Ruins and Q Ranch.
Among the artifacts are ceramics, pottery, beads, arrowheads and stone tools. There are also educational displays about the people who occupied Rim Country sites at the time of the Sinagua, Anasazi, Mogollon, Salado and Hohokam.
The MRCA has a special ceremonial room off the main exhibit hall featuring a reconstruction of an underground kiva where sacred rituals would be practiced.
Another exhibit features petroglyphs found in the Flowing Springs area.
The MRCA is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $2.50 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1 for students.
A lesson on the area's more recent past can be found at the Rim Country Museum in Green Valley Park at the west end of Main Street.
It is a two-story facility that includes the first forest ranger station in Payson and a replica of the historic Herron Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1918.
The museum houses public exhibits ranging from the ancient people who once inhabited the area to a working model of an old sawmill. The sawmill model is one of the most popular exhibits at the museum, followed closely by the display of Zane Grey's belongings.
This summer quilts were featured in one of the exhibits.
There is also a large gift shop at the museum with books and many unique souvenirs.
Admission to the Rim Country Museum is $3 for adults, $2.50 for seniors 55 and older, $2 for students 12-17, and free for children 11 and younger. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Pine, Strawberry history
The Pine and Strawberry area has its historic attractions, too. In Strawberry, down Fossil Creek Road, about 1.5 miles, the historic Strawberry Schoolhouse stands. The restored log schoolhouse is the oldest standing school in Arizona. It was built in 1884 and restored in the 1960s. It is a historic monument and living history museum. The schoolhouse is open to visitors during weekends in the summer, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Pine-Strawberry Museum is at the Pine Community Center, which first served the residents through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then as the Pine School. It is located in the center of town, on the left, driving north from Payson. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free to this tribute to the men and women who settled the Pine area. It is also one of the most comprehensive collections of artifacts depicting the day-to-day life of farming, ranching, homemaking and religion.
Across from the museum is Randall Park, where the original Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library building stands. The building is not open, but viewing windows have been installed to see how early residents traveled the world through books.