Area Water Feature History Not So Old


Nearby resident Frank Digmam stands atop the huge boulder that rolled down the Tonto in the flood.

Nearby resident Frank Digmam stands atop the huge boulder that rolled down the Tonto in the flood.

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Christopher Creek has the “Carwash” and Kohl’s Ranch has the “Bathtub.” Both are well known by residents. Both draw youngsters to play in the water. Kids have learned to swim in the “Bathtub” and younger kids learned to splash at the “Carwash.”

An angler could cast a fly at either location. Now, here’s the distinction the “Bathtub” has... it was once the home of a big rock. Much like the grinding tools of the kitchens of the ancients here in Rim Country, the “Bathtub” would be the matate. The mano, in this case, was the big rock, which sat in the bowl of the “Bathtub.” Then something happened and now the big rock rests 100 yards downstream.

Fine, you say. So? Well, that boulder weighs an estimated 25 tons and was moved down Tonto Creek nearly 300 feet by a wall of water from the Labor Day flood of 1970.

As we near Labor Day, we will hear the stories of the flood, caused by the remnants of tropical storm Norma, from Jim and Dee White, Penny Wells, Bobby Collins, Rosemary Elston and others. Many tales of escaping the torrent, as well as the death and destruction caused by the event will be related.

All this leads to the announcement that there will be a “1970 Labor Day Flood Reunion and Oldtimer’s Day” late this summer. See Canyon residents Don Farmer, Jim Hagen and Master of Ceremonies Marshall Trimble are spearheading this event. Details will be forthcoming as plans are firmed up. Don Farmer can be reached at (480) 200-8687.

Lightning sparked several fires, midday Friday, after a brief shower at Kohl’s Ranch. One was a quarter-acre burn near the Tontozona practice field. It was visible down Doubtful Canyon from Highway 260. All were quickly dispatched.

The Christopher Creek Crash Dummies got together Saturday before last. It was the inaugural meeting of the group of eight or so locals determined to enter the demolition derby in Payson later this summer. On the agenda was the naming of their entry, which will be the “Crash in the Creek.” This ought to be fun!

Barbara Wheeler has a cat that now insists on going out at 3 a.m. Now, that’s no way to treat a gal who just celebrated her 80th on July 3!

Creekside was the site of a get-together of 20 or so locals on Tuesday before last. The occasion was the last trip to the Creek for Skip Nagelhaut, who is now officially retired. Olive Matus and brother, Richard Henry, came up from Payson. Debbie Dawson, Barbara Wheeler, Eric and Nancy, as well as the kids from OW ranch were among the wellwishers. Dez did a great job hosting, serving cake and ice cream, and presented a plaque.

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Rod Britain photo

Many a Christopher Creek and Kohl’s Ranch area youngster learned to swim at the “Bathtub” at Kohl’s Ranch.

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Rod Britain photo

Nearby resident Frank Digmam stands atop the huge boulder that rolled down the Tonto in the flood.

Former area resident John Williams was here last Friday and Saturday. He was “Snowplow John” back 20 years ago and he, along with wife Jimmie, son, Phil, and daughter Julie, lived at the state yard out by the Colcord Road turnoff. Jimmie passed away recently and her wish was to be returned to the Rim. Folks will remember her as the day bar person at the Landmark for a number of years. Phil’s wife, Sharee, and kids Bailey, Jackson, Lincoln and McKay made the trip. They now live in Oro Valley. Julie introduced her husband, Kaz Itaya. John will be leaving his home in Globe to join Julie and Kaz in Carson City, Nev. Fifteen minutes out of Globe, one of the grandkids announced, “Hey, turn around... we forgot Grandma!” Jimmie would have wanted me to share that.

Longtime resident and restaurateur, Olive Matus, will be parade marshal in this year’s Independence Day Parade at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 6. Olive and John built Creekside Tavern and Cabins in 1972 and operated for 37 years. Parade will form up at Tall Pines Market at 10:30 a.m. The route is east on the Loop to Creekside, circling the parking lot, returning to Columbine Road crossing at the “Carwash,” up Apple Lane and ending at the Landmark for ice cream.

Back in the day... epilogue to the Dude. In 1990, July 4th weekend in the Creek didn’t happen. Only three days from containment the town was nearly a ghost town. Not to diminish the death and destruction caused by the fire, but the economic impact here was dramatic. Road blocks were still in place, thus preventing anybody from getting to the Creek on a major summer weekend. You could have shot a cannon through town without fear of hitting anybody. The bottom line was that we were still here! Now, later that summer, the Mother of all Labor Day Craft Shows helped to save the season but we will talk about that another time... and that’s another week in the Creek.

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