Mail Trail Follows History From Camp Verde To Payson

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The Mail Trail between Payson and Camp Verde is now officially recognized and open for hiking and horseback riding.

The trail was traveled between 1884 and 1914 by riders delivering mail to the communities along the way.

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Jeremy Bach and Councilor Mike Parry, both of Camp Verde, help place a monument in Deming Park, supervised by Howard Parrish, also of Camp Verde. The three men, along with Mitch Dickinson of Camp Verde, brought the monument to Payson Friday and placed it in the park as part of the Mail Trail dedication.

To commemorate the 60 riders who carried the mail from 1884 to 1914, dedication plaques are now at the original post office sites in Payson, Pine and Camp Verde.

Payson's plaque is located in Deming Park on Main Street and a ceremony to officially dedicate it will be at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.

The public is invited join the riders and supporters for this event as the mail is delivered to the Payson postmaster.

The project began in 1998 when Camp Verde resident Howard Parrish read an article on the last mail rider of the trail, another Camp Verde local named Tuffy Peach.

Parrish decided it would be fitting to try finding the old trail and re-establish it for horse riders and backpackers. It just so happened that Bill Stafford, a historic trails buff, had located the trail a few years earlier with the help of a local ranch foreman. With a common goal, the two set out on the long journey leading to official recognition.

The Mail Trail begins in Camp Verde at the Wingfield Store, which for a number of years served as the town's post office.

From there it travels south and east of town crisscrossing the Verde River three times and once more across Clear Creek, passing through the formerly thriving metropolis of Rutherford near the confluence of the Verde River and West Clear Creek.

From there, it works its way east to the Crook Wagon Trail and follows its tracks up to Mud Tanks Mesa. It was at Mud Tanks that the trail left the wagon road and headed south to Fossil Creek Canyon.

The riders would cross Fossil Creek Canyon where they changed horses and then go up and around Nash Point and downhill into Strawberry. They would then go on to Pine and follow Sycamore Creek, cross the East Verde and go on from there to Payson and, if necessary, Rye.

According to several sources, it took the riders 11 to 18 hours to make the 50-mile one-way trip, leaving the Wingfield Store at 2 a.m.

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