Retaking A Snapshot From The Past


Payson's replica of Zane Grey's cabin hits the airwaves Saturday, April 29, when Arizona Highways television broadcasts a segment on the Rim Country's historic landmark.

"Back in the fall, Arizona Highways did a nice article about the cabin," said Dick Wolfe, president of the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation.


Dick Wolfe, president of the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation, re-creates a photograph from 1921 taken in the Zane Grey cabin for an Arizona Highways film crew.

"They just contacted us and they were here about three hours taping."

Show producers enlisted volunteer actors to recreate a classic photo taken inside the cabin.

The old sepia image depicts the inside of the cabin shortly after it was built in 1921.

In the photo, Grey's son, Romer, leans against a wooden beam over the fireplace while watching artist and cousin Lillian Wilhelm-Smith, paint a Greek-inspired design on the mantle.

A secretary hired to type Grey's manuscripts, which he composed longhand, sits at a large table covered with a white tablecloth.

Local Charles Brown played Romer Grey. To prepare for the shoot, he dyed his gray hair dark brown.

Lita Nicholson, cabin volunteer, posed in front of a black typewriter as Grey's secretary, and Pat Lundblad, president of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, knelt with a paint brush near the mantle.

To re-create the historical patina in other scenes, Dr. Judith Hunt and her daughter Jordon dressed up as cowgirls and tied their horses, Jersey and Sleepy, to the hitching post in front of the cabin.

Meanwhile, Conrad Okerwall played the part of Anderson Lee "Babe" Haught -- Grey's friend, hunting guide and the builder of the original cabin.

The filming crew even took footage of the cabin's remains -- just a well pump and the building's foundation.

The group's visit to the cabin property beneath the Rim, which burned in the Dude Fire of 1990, was the highlight of the day, Nicholson said.

"A couple of us drove to the original site of the cabin," Nicholson said. "We were up there at sunset. It was just a beautiful thing."

Since the cabin opened in October 2005, attendance has quadrupled, Wolfe said. "Visitors come up during the week. People wait for the cabin to open."

He expects more guests, including international travelers, when point-of-interest signs go up on the Beeline Highway and Main Street.

The cabin has moved into the 21st century with the recent installation of interactive video units provided by the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The Arizona Highways segment airs April 29 on Channel 12, KPNX at 6:30 p.m.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Wolfe at (928) 978-2980.

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