The big attraction of the Rim Country is the scenic beauty along the roadways, hiking and ATV trails. But there are also plenty of places to visit to get out of the weather if too much of a chill sets in.
The Gila County Library District has a beautiful guide to the area's libraries and museums; it is free an available at the places it features.
The Rim Country can claim seven of the special spots in the guide: the Strawberry Schoolhouse Museum, the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library, Tonto Natural Bridge, Pine-Strawberry Historical Museum, Payson Public Library, Zane Grey Museum, Rim Country Museum, and one not included, the Shoofly Ruins.
The Payson area is home to Zane Grey Museum, Rim Country Museum, Payson Public Library and the Shoofly Ruins.
The following information is from the county guide, which was paid for through a grant.
Rim Country Museum
Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Museum
Both are at 700 Green Valley Parkway in Green Valley Park at the west end of West Main in Payson.
The Rim Country Museum is a historical representation of the Rim Country, beginning with an Apache dwelling and continuing through approximately 1960. It includes a working miniature sawmill, artifacts from the U.S. Army presence, a replica of a mining tunnel, a blacksmith shop, a still from Prohibition days, when people came from as far away as California for some Payson Dew, plus rotating exhibits.
Zane Grey Museum
The Zane Grey Museum is a meticulous reproduction of Grey's Cabin, which was destroyed by the Dude Fire in 1990. It was built as true to the original as possible, including the mistakes made in the 1920s construction. Inside, it looks as it did when Zane Grey lived there.
Grey, the "father of the western novel" was the author of 57 novels, more than 200 short stories and 10 nonfiction books. Movies made from his works are credited with launching the careers of Shirley Temple, John Wayne, Randolph Scott and others. Much of his writing was done at his cabin on the Mogollon Rim.
Both the Rim Country and Zane Grey Museums are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, admission is $3 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, $2 for students dents 12 to 18, and free for those under 12. For more information about either, call ((28) 474-3483.
Payson Public Library
The Payson Public Library is at 328 N. McLane Road, Payson, hours are 9 a.m. to
6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
The Payson Public Library is situated in Rumsey Park. Large, spacious windows take advantage of the beautiful views.
This modern and cheerful library hosts a number of innovative programs for residents of all ages. There is a reading advisory group, children's reading programs, proctor service for distance learning, several public access stations and a program to bring books to shut-ins.
The library also sponsors a mentoring program in conjunction with the court, where juvenile offenders can "read their way off probation" while obtaining a GED. More than 50 volunteers, as well as an enthusiastic and dedicated Library Friends organization, aid the Payson Library staff.
For more information, call (928) 474-9260.
From a Tonto National Forest publication:
People have lived in the shadow of the Mogollon Rim in the Payson area for more than 5,000 years.
The technology of the prehistoric people who lived here was rich and varied. Spears and bows and arrows were used for hunting.
Native farmers grew corn, beans and squash along the many streams in the area, and built stone terraces on the mesa tops to catch rainfall and create additional pockets of soil for planting.
Stone tools were made for processing meat, hides and bone and for grinding corn. Baskets and ceramic pots were made and used for gathering storage and cooking.
Clothing was made of buckskin and cotton, sometimes woven with feathers or strips of rabbit fur.
Argillite, a soft red stone, was used to make beads and other jewelry.
Ancient travel routes led south into the Sonoran Desert and north onto the Colorado Plateau, bringing new ideas and exotic trade items, such as decorated pottery, obsidian and carved-shell jewelry.
The earliest people in the Payson area did not have permanent settlements. They moved around to where wild foods were most readily available in any given season.
They adopted agriculture sometime around around A.D. 300 This new practice, although more productive, tied people to one place.
A fast-growing and settled population soon began to put increasing pressure on those areas best suited to farming, hunting and gathering. This led to a greater emphasis on agriculture, often in marginal areas, and may also have resulted in conflicts between local groups. All of these things combined to increase the level of complexity in prehistoric Payson.
Up until about A.D. 1000 the people of the Payson area lived in small settlements made up of only a few families each. As the need to share labor for farming or defense grew, villages like Shoofly Village developed.
Rapid changes in social organization marked the 11th and 12th centuries under the Rim.
The range of architectural types at Shoofly Village mirrors these changes. The oval houses, the separate square building, the courtyard walls, the large room block and the outer compound wall each represent different experiments in social and economic arrangements.
Shoofly Village was built and occupied between A.D. 1000 and 1250 by people who had close cultural ties to the Hohokam and Salado people then living in the deserts and mountains to the south.
By the time the village was established, however, they had developed their own distinctive culture.
The village contains 87 rooms and many courtyards, all surrounded by a compound wall that encloses about four acres.
It is arranged into three groups of rooms that were constructed at different times during the history of the site.
The single unit, oval-shaped rooms are the earliest, with the rectangular rooms, particularly clustered into the large block at the center of the site, built later.
Many of the rooms appear to have been occupied at the same time. The walled courtyards suggest that families or other small social groups maintained separate identities within the village.
The compound wall was built during the late period of construction. The boulders of dark basalt used in the wall contrast against the red sandstone used in most of the rooms. The wall was at least three feet high and may have been higher. The fact that no houses are found outside the wall suggests that it was built for protection.
The discovery of a lot of corn in the rooms along with many grinding stones indicates that agriculture was important in the village's economy. Nearby springs supplied water for domestic use.